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Depression and anxiety in policework: a systematic review

Shannon Wagner (Department of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada)
Nicole White (Department of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada)
Lynda R. Matthews (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Christine Randall (School of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Health, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Cheryl Regehr (Department of Social Work, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Marc White (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Lynn E. Alden (Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Nicholas Buys (Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, Faculty of Health, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Mary G. Carey (School of Nursing, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA)
Wayne Corneil (Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Trina Fyfe (Northern Medical Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada)
Elyssa Krutop (Department of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada)
Alex Fraess-Phillips (Department of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada)
Matthew H. Fleischmann (Department of Education & Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 30 September 2019

Issue publication date: 2 June 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate the extant literature on depression and anxiety disorders in police using a multinational data set to determine whether the prevalence of these trauma-related disorders (TRMDs) is elevated in comparison to the general population.

Design/methodology/approach

Systematic review was employed in combination with best-evidence narrative synthesis to evaluate these hypotheses.

Findings

Despite wide variability in prevalence outcomes across the literature, strong evidence supports the hypothesis that the prevalence of depression is elevated in police, whereas moderate evidence supports the same hypothesis regarding anxiety. Preliminary evaluation of commonly examined predictive factors for each disorder demonstrated weak and inconsistent associations between these TRMDs and sociodemographic factors. No studies evaluated the relationship between incident-related factors (e.g. severity or frequency of exposure) and TRMDs, thus, at present, the literature on police is almost entirely unable to address the question of whether the prevalence of these disorders in police is influenced by exposure to work-related trauma.

Research limitations/implications

The findings highlight a critical need for future work to address incident-related factors in predicting symptoms of depression and anxiety in police samples to determine whether these disorders bear a unique relationship to work-related traumatic exposure. Such work will significantly benefit the design and implementation of successful prevention and intervention strategies in the workplace.

Originality/value

The present review provides a comprehensive synthesis of a highly variable literature, highlighting critical gaps in our current knowledge of TRMDs in police and suggesting numerous avenues for future study.

Keywords

Citation

Wagner, S., White, N., Matthews, L.R., Randall, C., Regehr, C., White, M., Alden, L.E., Buys, N., Carey, M.G., Corneil, W., Fyfe, T., Krutop, E., Fraess-Phillips, A. and Fleischmann, M.H. (2020), "Depression and anxiety in policework: a systematic review", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 417-434. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2019-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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