Background According literature, policing is one of the most stressful occupations, affecting police officers’health (Habersaat et al., 2015). They are repeatedly exposed to operational stressors in the form of unpredictable and potentially dangerous or traumatic situations (Albuerne et al., 2015; Balmer et al., 2014; Yung et al., 2015). Studies associated burnout and psychopathology, suggesting a decrease in psychological wellbeing elicited by job tasks (Vendel et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2014). Several authors (Kelty, 2015; Stanley et al., 2016) referred that police officers have high risk to develop occupational stress and suicidal thoughts, prejudicing individuals and organisations.
Aims To identify burnout and psychopathological symptoms among police officers from Portuguese National Police (PSP), and to know the relationship between burnout and psychopathological symptoms, checking if they are reciprocal predictors.
Method Data were collected during regular and official psychological assessment done by Psychology Unit of PSP to 952 police officers during their 1st year working on Lisbon. All were male, mean age of 26.29 years, fulfilled Portuguese versions of MBI (Maslach et al., 1997; Marques-Pinto & Picado, 2011) and SCL90-R (Derogatis, 1977; Batista, 1993).
Results Low burnout levels and low presence of psychopathological symptoms (emotional exhaustion M = 0.93 on a 0–6 scale, depersonalization = 0.83, professional achievement M = 4.70). All psychopathological symptoms were low (less than 1, using a 0–4 scale). Regression revealed that psychopathological symptoms explain 38% of emotional exhaustion, 22% of depersonalization and 11% of professional achievement. Burnout dimensions explain 38% of psychopathology severity and 30% of symptoms diversity. Emotional exhaustion correlates stronger with depression, somatization and hostility.
Conclusions Despite the presence of low burnout level and low psychopathological symptoms, depression and emotional exhaustion were correlated, and reciprocal predictors present the same value, alerting for the need to regular assessment of these professionals to prevent occupational stress and to define stress management programs focused on police officers’needs (Garbarino & Magnavita, 2015; Grubb, 2015; Patterson et al., 2015).
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