Police officers: a high risk group for the development of mental health disturbances? A cohort study

P.G. van der Velden, A.R. Rademakers, E. Vermetten, M.A. Portengen, L. Grievink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

ABSTRACT
Objectives: Policing is generally considered a highrisk
profession for the development of mental health
problems, but this assumption lacks empirical
evidence. Research question of the present study is to
what extent mental health disturbances, such as (very)
severe symptoms of anxiety, depression and hostility
are more prevalent among police officers than among
other occupational groups.
Design: Multicomparative cross-sectional study using
the data of several cross-sectional and longitudinal
studies in the Netherlands.
Participants: Two samples of police officers (N=144
and 503), employees of banks (N=1113) and
employees of banks who were robbed (N=144);
employees of supermarkets (N=335), and a psychiatric
hospital (N=219), employees of a governmental social
welfare organisation (N=76), employees who followed a
training based on rational-motive therapy to strengthen
their assertiveness (N=710), soldiers before
deployment (N=278) and before redeployment (N=236)
and firefighters (N=123). The numbers refer to
respondents with complete data.
Primary outcomes: Prevalence of severe (subclinical
level) and very severe symptoms (clinical level) were
computed using the Dutch norm tables (80th percentile
and 95th percentile, respectively) of the Symptom
Check List Revised (SCL-90-R). All comparisons were
controlled for age, gender and education.
Results: Multivariate logistic regression and analyses
showed that the prevalence of clinical and subclinical
levels of symptoms of anxiety, depression and hostility
among police officers were not significantly higher than
among comparison groups. The same pattern was
found for the other SCL-90-R subscales.
Conclusions: We found no indications that selfreported
mental health disturbances were more
prevalent among police officers than among groups of
employees that are not considered high-risk groups,
such as employees of banks, supermarkets, psychiatric
hospital and soldiers before deployment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ bmjopen-2012-001720)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Medical Journal - Open
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2013

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  • Cite this

    van der Velden, P. G., Rademakers, A. R., Vermetten, E., Portengen, M. A., & Grievink, L. (2013). Police officers: a high risk group for the development of mental health disturbances? A cohort study. British Medical Journal - Open, 1-10. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ bmjopen-2012-001720)].