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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200350 Find in a Library
Title: Examining the Effects of Coping and Social Support on Work and Life Stress Among Police Officers
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:31  Issue:3  Dated:May/June 2003  Pages:215-226
Author(s): George T. Patterson
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 12
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the effects of coping and seeking social support on psychological distress among police officers.
Abstract: Coping and seeking social support should function as a buffer between stressful events and distress because seeking social support can function as either an emotion-focused or problem-focused coping strategy. Work-related events are more likely to affect problem-focused strategies, whereas stressful family-related events are likely to affect emotion-focused coping. As part of a larger study investigating stress and coping, a sample of 233 police officers employed within a mid-sized northeastern law enforcement organization was used in this study. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used. Control variables included marital status, gender, and age. The correlational analysis results suggested that the age of the officer was associated with more years of police experience, higher rank, and reporting fewer stressful work events. Education was significantly associated with higher rank, a greater number of reported stressful work events, and more emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping, and seeking social support coping, although the correlations were weak. These findings suggest that officers with more college education are more likely to use a variety of coping strategies, as well as more strategies in response to work events. Officers reporting a greater number of stressful work and life events used more emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping, and seeking social support to cope with these events. Female officers were more likely to be married, and reported fewer stressful work and life events, and lower levels of distress. The main effect of life events was related to higher distress. Problem-focused coping resulted in a “reverse buffering effect”; the relationship between work events and distress was associated with higher distress. Seeking social support buffered the relationship between work events and distress, and emotion-focused coping buffered the relationship between life events and distress. The results suggest that stress management programs designed for police officers should consider the number of stressful life events police officers experience. Such programs should not focus exclusively on work-related events and situations. 3 tables, 67 references
Main Term(s): Police occupational stress; Stress management
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Domestic relations; Family support; Job pressure; Police work attitudes; Stress assessment
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