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PTSD symptoms among police officers: associations with frequency, recency, and types of traumatic events.

Hartley TA; Violanti JM; Sarkisian K; Andrew ME; Burchfiel CM
Int J Emerg Mental Health Hum Resil 2013 Oct-Dec; 15(4):241-254
Policing necessitates exposure to traumatic, violent and horrific events, which can lead to an increased risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The purpose of this study was to determine whether the frequency, recency, and type of police-specific traumatic events were associated with PTSD symptoms. Participants were 359 police officers from the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) Study (2004-2009). Traumatic police events were measured using the Police Incident Survey (PIS); PTSD was measured using the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C). Associations between PIS and PTSD symptoms were evaluated using ANCOVA. Contrast statements were used to test for linear trends. Increased frequency of specific types of events were associated with an increase in the PCL-C score in women, particularly women with no history of prior trauma and those who reported having a high workload (p < 0.05). More recent exposure to seeing severely assaulted victims was associated with higher PCL-C scores in men (p < 0.02). In summary, the frequency of several traumatic events was associated with higher PTSD scores in women, while the recency of seeing victims of assault was associated with higher PTSD scores in men. These results may be helpful in developing intervention strategies to reduce the psychological effects following exposure and these strategies may be different for men and women.
Law-enforcement; Law-enforcement-workers; Police-officers; Emergency-responders; Humans; Women; Men; Sex-factors; Demographic-characteristics; Statistical-analysis; Epidemiology; Psychological-stress; Mental-stress; Author Keywords: Police officers; traumatic events; post-traumatic stress disorder
Tara A. Hartley, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Morgantown, WV
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Grant; Contract
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-009640; Contract-200-2003-01580
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
Source Name
International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience
Performing Organization
State 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