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Mental, Physical, and Behavioral Outcomes Associated with Perceived Work Stress in Police Officers

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 36 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2000 Pages: 275-289
Date Published
March 2009
15 pages

This study estimated the effects of perceived work stress in police officers and determined the impact of coping on both perceived work stress and health.


The study found that organizational stressors, not critical incidents, were most strongly associated with perceived police stress. This could be explained by officers expecting that line-of-duty critical incidents would occur but would not expect to be treated unfairly by their department. Similar to other police studies, it was noted that police officers who reported high levels of police stress were at an increased risk for a number of adverse health outcomes, especially depression, anxiety, burnout, somatization (insomnia), and posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSS). A strong association was also found between police stress and negative behavioral outcomes, such as spousal abuse, aggression, and increased use of alcohol. The results of this study underscore the need to reevaluate police training of recruits at the police academy to ensure they get the training necessary to meet the daily challenges and demands of police work. From the organizational perspective, negative outcomes associated with police stress can seriously undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies through poor productivity, excessive rates of turnover, difficulties in recruitment, and high absenteeism, health care utilization, and workers’ compensation costs. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a wide range of police stressors on potential health outcomes while controlling for various coping strategies in a large sample of urban police officers. Tables and references

Date Published: March 1, 2009