A traditional view is that police officers possess negative attitudes toward seeking professional help. However, few empirical studies have investigated help-seeking behaviour in police services. This study aimed to investigate help-seeking behaviour, gender differences, and the relationship to self-reported physical and mental health problems in the Norwegian police service. Comparisons were made with a sample of the general Norwegian population. A comprehensive nationwide questionnaire survey of 3,272 Norwegian police officers at all hierarchical levels was conducted; measurements included help-seeking, Subjective Health Complaint questionnaire (SHC), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Paykel's Suicidal Feelings in the General Population, alcohol and medication to cope, self reported health, and sick leave. Female police officers contacted nearly all health professionals more than their male counterparts. Help-seeking was largely unaffected by age. Less than 10% of those reporting anxiety or depressive symptoms or serious suicidal ideation had contacted a psychologist or psychiatrist. A chiropractor had been contacted by 14.5% of the sample during the past year, compared with 7% in the general Norwegian population. Anxiety symptoms were associated with seeking a chiropractor (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3-2.7). The strongest association with contacting a psychologist or psychiatrist was medication used to cope (OR 5.8, 95% CI 3.0-11.1). The first nationwide study on help-seeking behaviour showed that police officers sought help among specialists in private practice, physiotherapists and chiropractors relatively often. However, they contacted a psychologist or psychiatrist rarely, even when reporting serious suicidal ideation.
2006 by the Japan Society for Occupational Health