This study tested the magnitude of the relationship between self-reported stressor exposure and perceived stress in police officers, using a novel measure of daily work events, and whether dispositional mindfulness and resilience moderate this relationship.
A total of 114 law enforcement officers from a mid-sized Midwestern U.S. city completed daily logs of job stressors and associated perceived stress, as well as additional self-report measures of perceived stress, trait mindfulness and resilience, and demographics and work information. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to cluster job stressors into a smaller number of components in a data-driven manner. Linear mixed-effects models were used to test the relationship between stressor exposure and perceived stress for each component, and the moderation of this relationship by trait mindfulness and resilience. The PCA categorized stressor exposure into three components: (1) acute or traumatic line-of-duty stressors, (2) routine daily stressors, and (3) interpersonal stressors. Results of mixed models showed robust positive relationships between self-reported stressor exposure and corresponding perceived stress across all 3 components. Dispositional mindfulness (but not resilience) moderated the association between stressor exposure and perceived stress for routine stressors, such that individuals with higher dispositional mindfulness showed a relatively attenuated relationship between exposure to routine daily stressors and resulting perceived stress. The study concluded that police officers high in dispositional mindfulness may experience daily routine stressors as less stressful, which can reduce the accumulation of general stress in the long term and could help buffer against negative health outcomes associated with perceived stress. (publisher abstract modified)