The Negative Impact of Police Psycho-physiological Stressors

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


One purpose of the present study was to examine how exposure to police stressors is associated with increased risk for physical, psychological, and interpersonal negative outcomes. Another purpose was to identify “healthy” or “unhealthy” coping mechanisms that medicate these associations between police stressors and negative outcomes. Participants included 201 law enforcement officers from small American police departments under 100 officers (96% male; mean age = 40.3 years; 91% Caucasian; 55% patrol officer rank; mean years of service = 15.0 years) who completed anonymous surveys that included the 25-item Law Enforcement Officer Stress Survey (LEOSS) and measures of health problems, self-esteem, and aggression to romantic partners and police partners. They also reported 12 “healthy” and “unhealthy” coping mechanisms as suggested by the Theory of Threat Appraisal and Coping (exercise, sleep, eating fruits and vegetables, family support, police support, religiosity, alcohol, tobacco, snacks, expressed anger, repressed anger). Higher exposure to police stressors was found to be associated with increased risk of health problems, low self-esteem, partner aggression, and police aggression. Repressed anger was the “unhealthy” coping mechanism most significantly associated with officers’ reports of police stressors. Mediation analysis revealed that only the removal of repressed anger dropped associations between police stressors and the four negative outcomes to non-significance. Present results demonstrate that the most prevalent coping mechanism used by stressed police officers may not always be associated with improvements in outcomes. Employee Assistance Programs for officers with high levels of police stressors should focus on anger-management and anger-expression skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPolice Use of Force
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Perspectives and Policy Implications
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783031227059
ISBN (Print)9783031227042
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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