March 13, 2009

Police work stress linked to depression

Police funerals, workplace discrimination, lack of cooperation and job dissatisfaction correlate with police officer work stress, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health said occupational stress was significantly associated with adverse outcomes, including depression and intimate partner abuse.

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, the Mailman School researchers developed a five-page, 132-item survey to address police stressors, perceived work stress, coping strategies and adverse outcomes.

Perceived work stress was also correlated with adverse psychological, physical, and behavioral outcomes. Individuals who reported experiencing depression were nearly 10 times more likely to report perceived work stress and individuals reporting anxiety were six times more likely to report work stress. Individuals who reported aggression or interpersonal conflict were two times more likely to also report work stress, the researchers said.

The findings are published in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior.