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Journal Articles Social Science & Medicine Year : 2015

Health in police officers: Role of risk factor clusters and police divisions.


Law enforcement is a stressful occupation associated with significant health problems. To date, most studies have focused on one specific factor or one domain of risk factors (e.g., organizational, personal). However, it is more likely that specific combinations of risk factors are differentially health relevant and further, depend on the area of police work. A self-selected group of officers from the criminal, community, and emergency division (N = 84) of a Swiss state police department answered questionnaires assessing personal and organizational risk factors as well as mental and physical health indicators. In general, few differences were observed across divisions in terms of risk factors or health indicators. Cluster analysis of all risk factors established a high-risk and a low-risk cluster with significant links to all mental health outcomes. Risk cluster-by-division interactions revealed that, in the high-risk cluster, Emergency officers reported fewer physical symptoms, while community officers reported more posttraumatic stress symptoms. Criminal officers in the high-risk cluster tended to perceived more stress. Finally, perceived stress did not mediate the relationship between risk clusters and posttraumatic stress symptoms. In summary, our results support the notion that police officers are a heterogeneous population in terms of processes linking risk factors and health indicators. This heterogeneity thereby appeared to be more dependent on personal factors and individuals' perception of their own work conditions than division-specific work environments. Our findings further suggest that stress-reduction interventions that do not target job-relevant sources of stress may only show limited effectiveness in reducing health risks associated with police work.

Dates and versions

hal-01585887 , version 1 (12-09-2017)



Stephanie A Habersaat, Ashley M Geiger, Sid Abdellaoui, Jutta M Wolf. Health in police officers: Role of risk factor clusters and police divisions.. Social Science & Medicine, 2015, 143, pp.213-222. ⟨10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.08.043⟩. ⟨hal-01585887⟩
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