Patterns of occupational stress in police contact and dispatch personnel: Implications for physical and psychological health
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AbstractPurpose Occupational stress in police call handlers is researched less frequently than in operational or front-line police, despite the role’s unique challenges. Occupational stress is potentially manageable, thus improved understanding of its contributors and consequences is important for effective intervention. We aimed to compare levels and sources of organisational stress in police contact and dispatch personnel with UK benchmarks. Secondly, to test whether different typologies of stress were associated with physical health, mental health and substance use. Finally, to examine whether non-organisational factors (socio-demographic factors and family interference with work (FIW)) predicted organisational stress typologies. Methods A sample (n = 720) of police and civilian staff in a UK police call and dispatch centre were surveyed. Results The strongest sources of stress were competing and high demands, low control, insufficient managerial support and ambiguity surrounding workplace change – all of which indicated need for ‘urgent action’ according to UK benchmarks. Substance use and particularly mental health difficulties were higher than published norms. A latent profile analysis grouped respondents into a low stress group and two high stress profiles: As stress increased across profiles, this corresponded with worse physical and mental health and higher substance use. FIW predicted membership of both high stress profiles. Conclusion Despite non-operational roles, police contact and despatch personnel can experience high occupational stress which is associated with physical and mental health difficulties and substance use. Organisational-level interventions which address lack of control, conflicting role demands as well as enhance management support and communication around change might be most effective in this group.
CitationGalbraith, N., Boyda, D., McFeeters, D. and Galbraith, V. (2021) Patterns of occupational stress in police contact and dispatch personnel: Implications for physical and psychological health, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 94, pp. 231–241. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-020-01562-1
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
DescriptionThis is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Springer Nature in International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health on 12/10/2020, available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-020-01562-1 The accepted version of the publication may differ from the final published version.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/