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Perceived stress among police officers: an integrative model of stress and coping

Jennifer H. Webster (Department of Political Science, Criminal Justice & Organizational Leadership, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to propose an original model of stress and coping as a complex interactive process between an individual and his or her environment.


A preliminary test of the model is conducted using data from a meta-analysis of perceived occupational stress among police officers. Collapsing correlates into predictor domains that mirror the proposed model of stress and coping allowed for a preliminary analysis of some of the constructs in the proposed model.


The findings suggest that each domain contributes to the perception of stress and that knowledge in this area might best be advanced by recognizing the importance of each in shaping an interactive process of stress and coping rather than attempting to rank individual correlates.

Research limitations/implications

The data do not provide definitive conclusions that personal characteristics or job characteristics, for example, are more important than others in shaping stress perception among police officers. Clearly, these findings suggest that questions about what is most important in shaping police stress have remained unanswered because the variables of interest make equally important contributions to a complex process.


Adopting the proposed integrative model of stress and coping may help researchers move beyond the flawed conceptualization of perceived stress among police officers as a simple operational/organizational dichotomy, allowing for a more rich understanding of stress and coping as a complex process.



The author would like to thank Lawrence F. Travis, III, Paula Smith, John Violanti, James Frank, and William J. Attenweiler for their comments on earlier versions of this work.


H. Webster, J. (2014), "Perceived stress among police officers: an integrative model of stress and coping", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 37 No. 4, pp. 839-857.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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