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Police trauma encounters: precursors of compassion fatigue.
Int J Emerg Mental Health 2004 Mar; 6(2):75-80
Given frequent assignments of responding to critical situations, police officers are a high-risk population for exposure to traumatic stress. It was hypothesized that types and increased frequencies of certain traumas lead to increased risk for PTSD symptoms and eventually to a state of compassion fatigue through secondary processes. Compassion fatigue was conceptualized as the cost of caring without reward or result. Results indicated that the homicide of another officer in the line of duty and dealing with victims of serious crime resulted in the greatest increased risk of trauma symptoms. Gender differences were found in trauma risk, with women officers experiencing higher risk from dealing with abused children and male officers experiencing higher risk due to shooting incidents where officers were involved. It was concluded that increased frequency and type of traumas, especially those occurring to other co-workers and those associated with gender, may eventually lead to a secondary process of emotional compassion fatigue. Available strategies for prevention are discussed.
Health-hazards; Health-surveys; Police-officers; Law-enforcement; Age-factors; Physiological-factors; Women; Psychological-factors; Psychological-responses; Traumatic-injuries; Children; Stress; Author Keywords: police; PTSD; gender; compassion fatigue
John M Violanti, PhD, School of Public Health and Health Professions, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, 270 Farber Hall, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214
Issue of Publication
Research Tools and Approaches: Intervention Effectiveness Research
International Journal of Emergency Mental Health
University of New York at Buffalo
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division