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The feasibility of using real-time, objective measurements of physiological stress among law enforcement officers in Dallas, Texas

Jennifer M. Reingle Gonzalez (Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, USA)
Katelyn K. Jetelina (Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, USA)
Stephen A. Bishopp (School of Public Health, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, USA) (Dallas Police Department, Dallas, Texas, USA)
Melvin D. Livingston (Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Rodolfo A. Perez (Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, USA)
Kelley Pettee Gabriel (Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 1 March 2019

Issue publication date: 22 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) suffer from premature mortality, intentional and unintentional injury, suicide and are at an increased risk for several non-communicable disease outcomes including cardiovascular disease and several cancers, compared to those employed in other occupations. Repeated exposure to stressful and traumatic stimuli is a possible mechanism driving these adverse health outcomes among LEOs. To better identify the sources of these health problems, the purpose of this paper is to determine the feasibility of conducting a cohort study using physiological measures of stress (e.g. heart rate) with LEOs; perceptions of the FitBit device, including LEO buy-in and attitudes associated with the protocol.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from ten recent graduates of the Dallas Police Training Academy.

Findings

Results suggest that officer buy-in and protocol compliance was high. Officers were eager to participate in this study, and completion of weekly surveys was 100 percent. Minute-level missing data from wearable devices was relatively low (25 percent), and 90 percent of participants wore the FitBit devices on more than 90 percent of study days.

Originality/value

Results from this study suggest that wearable physiological devices can be effectively used in law enforcement populations to measure stress.

Keywords

Citation

Reingle Gonzalez, J.M., Jetelina, K.K., Bishopp, S.A., Livingston, M.D., Perez, R.A. and Gabriel, K.P. (2019), "The feasibility of using real-time, objective measurements of physiological stress among law enforcement officers in Dallas, Texas", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 701-710. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-12-2018-0184

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited