The purpose of the present study was to identify common stressors and the magnitude of stress reactivity in police officers during the course of general duty police work. Using heart rate as a primary indicator of autonomic nervous system activation, coupled with observed physical activity data collected through 76 full shift ride‐alongs, this study differentiates between physical and psycho‐social stress. The results, confirming previous research based on self‐report data alone, demonstrate that police officers experience both physical and psycho‐social stress on the job, anticipating stress as they go about their work, while suffering anticipatory stress at the start of each shift. The results demonstrated that the highest levels of stress occur just prior to and during critical incidents, and that officers do not fully recover from that stress before leaving their shift. Overall, the results illustrate the need to consider stress reactivity and repressors in the assessment of police officer stress while clearly demonstrating the need for debriefing after critical incidents and increased training in stress management and coping strategies.
Anderson, G., Litzenberger, R. and Plecas, D. (2002), "Physical evidence of police officer stress", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 399-420. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510210429437Download as .RIS
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