New research by the University of Montreal discovers police officers are no more likely than the general population to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Investigators say the study confirms that symptoms associated with the development of PTSD in police officers can be attenuated or prevented with specific and adapted intervention.
The ability to lessened symptoms of PTSD, or harden individuals at risk of experiencing traumatic events (TE) in their work, is a significant finding.
Researchers say intervention can reduce dissociative reactions, emotional and physical reactions, acute stress, depressive symptoms, and can improve emotional coping responses to stress.
“Providing police officers with interventional support shortly after and in the weeks following a TE improves the chances of preventing PTSD,” explained André Marchand, lead author of the study.
“The strategies for adapting to trauma, such as developing a stress-resistant personality and obtaining social support, can be improved through prevention components of police officer training programs,” said Mr. Marchand.
Having a variety of strategies to deal with TE is important as conditions, as well as individuals, differ. Some police officers stated that talking to their colleagues, obtaining peer support and taking part in leisure activities are particularly helpful after a TE.
“The police offers involved in this study even advise their colleagues who experience this kind of event to consult a psychologist and are themselves open to the idea of receiving psychological support if need be,” said Mélissa Martin, co-author and psychologist at the Trauma Study Centre at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital.
Researchers say the knowledge from the study gained will help departments create strategies to both develop mechanisms that protect police officers from TE and decrease risk factors.
This study could also have a significant impact on other people with a high risk of experiencing work-related TE (firefighters, paramedics, first-aid workers, first responders, etc.).
Source: University of Montreal