2003 Volume 45 Issue 6 Pages 358-364
The role of the police in Western society is undergoing a transformation that reflects the economic social and technological changes in the community and the assertion of individual rights within a democracy. The aim of this study is to evaluate level of stress among a group of French policemen and to examine the association between policing, potential stressors and stress levels. The sample is drawn from a large metropolitan police force (n=617). The population extends from the first line policeman to top senior management. Each policeman is matched for age (more or less five years) and sex, to a control. Policemen and controls complete a self administered questionnaire including demographic, occupational and health characteristics, and a stress level assessment with the help of a visual analogue scale. The average age of the two groups is 40 yr. Eighty-four percent are men. The total score for average sources is not statistically significantly different for policemen and controls. Comparison of a police group with a high stress level to a police population with a low and moderate stress level is made. The comparison is done first only with men, and second with the whole population. Policemen with a high stress level (same results only for men and the whole population) belong to the following groups: more than 15 yr service, sergeant, officer and administrative employee rank, divorced experience, age over 30, no leisure-time activities and no hobbies. Multivariate analysis shows that the two last parameters are bound to the stress level. For the whole population, age over 30 has to be added, and for the group of men, length of service over five years should be noted. Stress at work is an ill-health provoking factor. Police from minority groups such as ageing subjects or police officers have been reported to experience greater stress. This population is adversely affected by lack of available manpower and long working hours. In fact sources of stress in the police population are found both in the weariness of the job and private life planning.
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