Although correctional officers (COs) clearly suffer from depression, positive resources for combating depression have been rarely studied in this population. The purpose of the study was to examine the associations of perceived organizational support (POS) and psychological capital (PsyCap) with depressive symptoms among Chinese COs.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a province of northeast China during March–April 2011. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 1900 male COs from four male prisons. Depressive symptoms, POS, and PsyCap (self efficacy, hope, resilience, and optimism) were measured anonymously. A total of 1428 effective respondents with 953 frontline COs (FL-COs) and 475 non-frontline COs (NFL-COs) became our final sample. Hierarchical linear regression was performed to explore the factors associated with depressive symptoms. Asymptotic and resampling strategies were used to examine the mediating roles of PsyCap and its four components.
The level of depressive symptoms of FL-COs was significantly higher than that of NFL-COs (t = 2.28, p = 0.023). There were significant negative associations of POS, PsyCap, hope, resilience, and optimism with depressive symptoms among FL-COs. In NFL-COs, POS, PsyCap, and optimism were negatively associated with depressive symptoms. POS was positively associated with PsyCap and its four components among both FL-COs and NFL-COs. For FL-COs, PsyCap (a*b = −0.143, BCa 95% CI: –0.186, –0.103, p < 0.05), resilience (a*b = −0.052, BCa 95% CI: –0.090, –0.017, p < 0.05), and optimism (a*b = −0.053, BCa 95% CI: –0.090, –0.016, p < 0.05) significantly mediated the association between POS and depressive symptoms. For NFL-COs, PsyCap (a*b = −0.126, BCa 95% CI: –0.186, –0.065, p < 0.05) and optimism (a*b = −0.066, BCa 95% CI: –0.116, –0.008, p < 0.05) significantly mediated the association.
Perceived organizational support and psychological capital could be positive resources for combating depressive symptoms in Chinese male COs. Psychological capital and its components (resilience and optimism) partially mediate the association between perceived organizational support and depressive symptoms. Therefore, organizational support and psychological capital investment (especially resilience and optimism) should be included in depression preventions and treatments targeting Chinese male COs.