NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Military experience and levels of stress and coping in police officers.

Hartley TA; Violanti JM; Mnatsakanova A; Andrew ME; Burchfiel CM
Int J Emerg Mental Health Hum Resil 2013 Oct-Dec; 15(4):229-240
Policing is a stressful occupation and working in this environment may make officers more vulnerable to adverse psychological and physiological outcomes. The impact of prior military experience on work stress and coping strategies has not been well-studied in police. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to examine differences in levels of police-related stress and coping in officers with and without military experience. Participants were 452 police officers from the Buffalo Cardio-metabolic Occupational Police Stress Study. Officers were categorized into three groups: non-military (n=334), non-combat military (n=84), and military with combat (n=34). Age, sex and education adjusted levels of psychological stress and coping measures were compared across the three groups using ANCOVA. P-values were derived from post-hoc comparisons. Non-military police officers had significantly higher stress levels for physically and psychological threatening events compared to non-combat officers (p=0.019). Non-military officers also reported experiencing significantly more organizational stressors and physically and psychologically threatening events in the past year than combat and non-combat officers (p<0.05). Combat officers had significantly lower levels of planning and active coping styles compared to non-combat officers (p=0.026, p=0.032, respectively) and non-military officers (p=0.010, p=0.005, respectively). In summary, police officers without military experience reported experiencing more organizational and life-threatening events than officers who served in the military. Yet combat officers were less likely to utilize positive coping than non-combat and non-military officers. These findings demonstrate the potential positive influence of military experience on police stress. Further research is needed as military veterans return to police work.
Law-enforcement; Law-enforcement-workers; Police-officers; Emergency-responders; Humans; Women; Men; Sex-factors; Demographic-characteristics; Statistical-analysis; Epidemiology; Psychological-stress; Mental-stress; Military-personnel; Author Keywords: military; police officers; work stress; coping
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
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
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