Occupational stress and psychological functioning in law enforcement officers

Research paper by Rebecca M. Pasillas, Victoria M. Follette, Suzanne E. Perumean-Chaney

Indexed on: 01 Mar '06Published on: 01 Mar '06Published in: Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology


Law enforcement officers experience a variety of stressors because of their police work responsibilities. The use of avoidance coping in order to cope with emotions, thoughts, and memories of traumatic or stressful events may explain increases in occupational stress and poorer psychological functioning. In this study, avoidance coping, occupational stress, and psychological distress were assessed in law enforcement officers. The sample was majority Caucasian, male, and married with a mean of 12.4 years of law enforcement experience. Results indicated that participants reported high levels of psychological distress as compared to an adult male non-patient sample. The use of avoidant coping was associated with higher levels of organizational stress. Additionally, a predictor of psychological distress was the use of avoidant coping strategies and high levels of occupational stress, respectively. Implications of these findings concerning the role of workplace acceptance in a law enforcement setting are discussed.