Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

D. Alex Heckert, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

John Anderson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christian Vaccaro, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Michael Eric Siegel, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of organizational environmental stressors on burnout, commitment, job satisfaction, and self-perceived health among federal probation officers, while controlling for the mediating effects of coping factors and support. In addition, I explored the effects of leadership training and leadership behaviors of top level administrators on the same outcomes. Of the criminal justice professions, probation, especially federal probation, has received the least attention in the area of stress research. Much of the probation stress literature is dated and the nature of the offender and caseload numbers have changed, thereby making interpretations difficult. Although the literature discusses the role of direct supervisors on employee stress, the role of top-level leaders is rarely considered. Making decisions based on limited and dated research on probation officer stress can lead to risks for not only the officers, but society. High levels of officer stress can lead to health problems, burnout, and turnover, resulting in less experienced, overworked probation officers.

Findings from this study confirmed some of the most common stressors noted in the literature for probation officer stress, including role load and role conflict. This study assessed the use of coping factors including emotion-focused, cognitive behavioral, and religion. Officers reported minimal use of such coping methods, however, the coping methods did impact stressors. The strongest finding from this study was the influence of a Chief United States Probation Officer’s leadership behaviors, which was often the strongest predictor of working conditions and had a moderate role in the stress outcomes.

Included in

Criminology Commons