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Relationship between forensic vigilance and personality traits, work experience, burnout symptoms, workplace stress and satisfaction in forensic mental healthcare professionals

Maartje Clercx (Department of FPC de Rooyse Wissel, Venray, The Netherlands and Faculty of Social Sciences, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud, University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Marije Keulen-de Vos (Department of FPC de Rooyse Wissel, Venray, The Netherlands and Faculty of Social Sciences, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud, University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Leam A. Craig (Forensic Psychology Practice Ltd, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, UK; Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK; School of Social Sciences, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK and School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)
Robert Didden (Stichting Trajectum, Zwolle, The Netherlands, and Faculty of Social Sciences, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 26 January 2023

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023

361

Abstract

Purpose

Forensic mental health care is a unique field that poses complex demands on professionals. Forensic vigilance is a hypothesized specialty of forensic mental health professionals, allowing them to meet the complex demands of working in forensic settings. Forensic vigilance consists of theoretical and experiential knowledge of mental disorders, theory of offending behavior, the criminal history of patients and environmental observations and clinical judgment. Although this concept has only been recently described and defined, it is still unknown which professional and individual factors are related to forensic vigilance, and if forensic vigilance is related to job stress and burnout symptoms. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relation between forensic vigilance and several professional and individual factors.

Design/methodology/approach

The current study investigated whether forensic vigilance is predicted by years of work experience and the Big Five personality traits by means of an online survey among forensic mental health professionals and whether forensic vigilance is associated with work-related stress, burnout and workplace satisfaction.

Findings

The 283 forensic mental health professionals who responded to the survey indicated that forensic work experience, but not general experience, positively predicted forensic vigilance. Forensic vigilance was negatively associated with Neuroticism and positively associated with Openness to experience and Conscientiousness. Forensic vigilance did not predict work-related stress, burnout symptoms and workplace satisfaction. Personal accomplishment was positively related to forensic vigilance.

Practical implications

Findings of the present study increase the understanding of the construct of forensic vigilance. The findings presented here highlight the importance of differences between professionals in terms of experience and personality. Training programs should capitalize on experience, while taking personality differences in consideration. Personality differences are relevant in hiring policies and team composition. Finally, to reduce workplace-related stress and burnout symptoms, institutions should consider known factors that influence work-related symptoms (e.g. experienced autonomy) rather than forensic vigilance.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study represents the first effort to study forensic vigilance in relation to personality, work experience and experienced workplace-related stress and satisfaction.

Keywords

Citation

Clercx, M., Keulen-de Vos, M., Craig, L.A. and Didden, R. (2023), "Relationship between forensic vigilance and personality traits, work experience, burnout symptoms, workplace stress and satisfaction in forensic mental healthcare professionals", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 57-77. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFP-07-2022-0035

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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