Since law enforcement officers’ health and wellness is important at the individual and community levels in terms of maintaining a fit workforce to uphold the mission of public safety, the current study was designed to assess officer wellness across the United States.
From a nationally representative random sample of 1,135 local and state agencies, a random, probability-based sample of officers was selected, oversampling for female officers. Latent class analyses were conducted to assess wellness profiles based on a set of 11 physical, psychological, and behavioral health indicators for 2,232 officers. Personal and professional characteristics were included as auxiliary variables in models of the resulting classes. Results from this sample indicated that just over two-thirds of officers fit a healthy profile; whereas, one in four officers presents with moderate health concerns and nearly 6 percent were classified in a profile of broad health concerns. In this sample, sexual assault in childhood, greater exposure to critical incidents, working a current rotation schedule, and being female were characteristics associated with broad health concerns. Emotional and/or physical assault in childhood, greater exposure to critical incidents, and being female were characteristics associated with moderate health concerns; whereas, older age and being Hispanic were protective factors. In sum, full-time sworn law enforcement officers across the United States are reasonably healthy, but their exposures to stressful situations puts them at increased risk, particularly in terms of post-traumatic stress, risky drinking, and suicidality. These results are important for agency administrators and policymakers to consider in terms of wellness programs, prevention efforts, and budget allocations. (publisher abstract modified)
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