Objectives Police work is an occupation replete with stress. The present study examined associations between specific police stressors (overall, administrative pressure, physical threat, and lack of support) and anxiety symptoms, and whether these associations were modified by hardiness, a dimension of resiliency.
Method The Spielberger Police Stress Survey, Beck Anxiety Scale, and Dispositional Resilience scale were utilised in this study. A total of 373 police officers with complete data from the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) study were included. Linear regression and analysis of covariance were used to examine mean anxiety levels across quartiles of stress. Associations were adjusted for age, sex, race, alcohol, smoking, and anxiety medication, and stratified by hardiness scores.
Results The mean age of officers was 41.4 years and 27% were female. Adjusted mean anxiety symptoms increased significantly with increasing stress quartiles overall (4.23, 4.99, 6.74 and 9.95 for quartiles 1–4, respectively, p < 0.001) and for all three types of stressors (p < 0.001). Hardiness did not significantly modify these associations. However, officers with hardiness scores above the median had generally lower anxiety scores than those below the median.
Conclusions Specific types of stress in police work are significantly associated with symptoms of anxiety. Further research is needed for individual and organisational factors which protect officers from anxiety and for policies to reduce work stress.
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