Police work is a high stress occupation and stress has been implicated in work absence. The present study examined (1) associations between police stress and absences, (2) distinctions between "voluntary" (1-day) and "involuntary" (> 3-days) absences; (3) modifying effect of hardiness and coping. Officers (n = 337) from the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress study were included in the present study. The sample was 72% males, 77% Caucasian, 73%married, and 75%patrol officers. Mean age was 41 years (SD= 6.4). Measures included: the Spielberger Police Stress Scale, 1-year payroll absence data, the Dispositional Resilience Scale, and the Brief COPE. Negative binomial regression was used to estimate rate ratios (RR) of 1-day and >3-day work absences with increasing stress scores. Models were adjusted for age, race, rank, smoking status, and alcohol intake. For one-unit increase in stress scores, the covariate adjusted RRs for one-day work absences were: total stress score (RR = 1.19, 95% CI: 1.04-1.36); administrative stress (RR = 1.52, 95% CI: 1.05-2.18); physical/psychological stress (RR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.14-2.07); lack of support (RR = 1.75, 95% CI: 1.01-3.05). Among officers high in hardiness (above median score), the RRs were: total stress score (1.43, 95% CI: 1.15 - 1.80); administrative/professional stress (2.30, 95% CI: 1.23 - 4.31); physical/psychological stress (2.17, 95% CI: 1.35 - 3.47); lack of support stress score (4.00, 95% CI: 1.56 - 10.3). Results suggest that officers were more likely to take voluntary 1-day absences due to various types of stress at work. Stress was not significantly associated with .3 day physician documented absences suggesting they were due to illness. Hardy individuals including those with high scores on the challenge sub-score may use 1-day absences as a positive coping strategy.
John M. Violanti, PhD, Social & Preventive Medicine, University at Buffalo, State University of NY, Buffalo, NY, 14214