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Child care stress and anxiety in police officers moderated by work factors.

McCanlies EC; Mnatsakanova A; Andrew ME; Violanti JM; Hartley TA
Policing 2019 Nov; 42(6):992-1006
Purpose: Balancing work and family in dual-earner households can be stressful. Research suggests that increased work-family conflict (WFC) significantly predicts poor psychological health and increased stress in police officers. The purpose of this paper is to assess whether child care stress was associated with anxiety symptoms and if stressful work events and shift work modified this relationship among 163 Buffalo, NY police officers. Design/methodology/approach: Participants indicated child care stress by reporting how much stress they felt (0 - none to 10 - high) when making child care/daily living arrangements. Shiftwork was assessed from pay-roll data (1994 to date of exam) and by asking, "Do you work opposite shift from your spouse/partner to care for your children?" to assess partner's shift. The Beck Anxiety Scale and Spielberger Police Stress Survey were used to assess anxiety and work stress, respectively. Effect modification was assessed by stratifying on police stress scores using their median values, and on partner's shift. All models were adjusted for age, alcohol intake, sex and smoking status. Findings: Results suggest that child care stress was positively associated with anxiety symptoms and that this relationship was moderated by high (>median) work stress factors and afternoon/midnight shift-work, but not having a partner who works opposite shift. These results indicate that child care stress is associated with anxiety symptoms and that this relationship may be modified by work factors. Research limitations/implications: A number of limitations should be considered while interpreting the results. This study is cross-sectional, which prevents causal inferences; therefore, the temporal pattern between exposure and outcome cannot be determined. The independent, dependent and moderating variables are all self-report measures, which may introduce recall bias. Lastly, generalizability is limited to police departments of similar size and geographic area. Practical implications: Police experience high stress as part of their jobs, these results indicate that similar to other professions, WFC can also affect police officers, and is associated with higher levels of anxiety. Originality/value: Few research studies have evaluated the affects of family issues in police. Specifically, the relationship between child care stress and anxiety, and how this relationship may be modified by high work stress.
Humans; Men; Women; Police officers; Stress; Psychological stress; Workers; Work environment; Work-life balance; Psychological effects; Health effects; Children; Shift work; Models; Age groups; Alcohol; Smoking; Author Keywords: Anxiety symptoms; Child care stress; Police; Work-family conflict
McCanlies, E.C., Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
Source Name
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management
Performing Organization
State University of New York at Buffalo
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division