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Caring for traffic accident victims: the stories of nine male police officers
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing.
2011 (English)In: International Emergency Nursing, ISSN 1755-599X, Vol. 19, no 2, 90-95 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Psychological strain due to the work environment is common, especially in those occupations which involve working in critical situations. Working as a police officer seems to increase the risk of psychological problems such as symptoms of stress and post traumatic stress disorders. The aim of this study was to describe male police officers’ experiences of traumatic situations when caring for victims of traffic accidents, and to reflect the results through the perspective of gender theories. Nine police officers were asked to narrate and reflect upon their experiences in taking care of people who had been severely injured in traffic accidents. The interviews were analysed with qualitative content analysis. The findings are presented in three themes: “being secure with the support system”, “being confident about prior successful actions, and “being burdened with uncertainty”. The officers’ descriptions showed that most of them had strategies that they used when they were first responders, developed on the basis of their own knowledge and actions and the support systems in their organization which enabled them to act in traumatic situations. When support systems, knowledge, and actions were insufficient, they sometimes felt insecure and “burdened with uncertainty”. In this male-dominated context, there was a risk that the officers may not talk enough about traumatic situations, thus influencing their ability to cope successfully.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2011. Vol. 19, no 2, 90-95 p.
Keyword [en]
Police, Experiences, Traffic accidents, Content analysis, Stress, Coping, Gender
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-39496DOI: 10.1016/j.ienj.2010.06.001OAI: diva2:392983

Received 2 April 2010; revised 14 June 2010; accepted 25 June 2010. Available online 31 July 2010.

Available from: 2011-01-28 Created: 2011-01-28 Last updated: 2013-05-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Burnout, work, stress of conscience and coping among female and male patrolling police officers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Burnout, work, stress of conscience and coping among female and male patrolling police officers
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Utbrändhet, arbete, samvetsstress och coping hos kvinnliga och manliga poliser
Abstract [en]

Background. Police work is a stressful occupation with frequent exposure to traumatic events and psychological strain from work might increase the risk of burnout. This thesis focuses on patrolling police officers (PPO), who work most of their time in the community and have daily contact with the public. Since police work traditionally is a male coded occupation we assume that there are differences between women and men in burnout as well as experiences from psychosocial work environment.

Aim. The overall aim of this thesis is to explore burnout, psychosocial and physical work environment, coping strategies, and stress of conscience when taking gender into consideration among patrolling police officers.

Methods. This thesis employs both qualitative and quantitative methods. In Paper I a qualitative approach with narrative interviews was used where male PPO described experiences of traumatic situations when caring for victims of traffic accidents. A convenience sample of nine male PPO from a mid-sized police authority was recruited. Interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Papers II, III, and IV were based on a cross-sectional survey from a randomly selected sample stratified for gender from all 21 local police authorities in Sweden. In the final sample, 1554 PPOs were invited (778 women, 776 men), response rate was 55% (n=856) in total, 56% for women (n=437) and 53% for men (n=419). The survey included a self-administered questionnaire based on instruments measuring burnout, stress of conscience, psychosocial and physical work environment, and coping.

Results. Findings from Paper I were presented in three themes; “being secure with the support system,” “being confident about prior successful actions,” and “being burdened with uncertainty.” Results from Paper II showed high levels of emotional exhaustion (EE), 30% for female PPOs and 26% for male PPOs. High levels of depersonalization (DP) were reported for 52 % of female PPO, corresponding proportions for male were 60%. Multiple logistic regression showed that stress of conscience (SCQ-A), high demand, and organizational climate increased the risk of EE for female PPO. For male PPO stress of conscience (SCQ-A), low control and high demand increased the risk of EE. Independent of gender, stress of conscience (SCQ-A) increased the risk of DP. Psychometric properties of the WOCQ were investigated with exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis, a six-factor solution was confirmed. DIF analysis was detected for a third of the items in relation to gender. In Paper IV a block wise hierarchical multiple regression analysis was performed investigating the predictive impact of psychological demand, decision latitude, social support, coping strategies, and stress of conscience on EE as well as DP. Findings revealed that, regardless of gender, risk of EE and DP increased with a troubled conscience amongst the PPO.

Conclusion. “Being burdened with uncertainty” in this male-dominated context indicate that the PPO did not feel confident talking about traumatic situations, which might influence their coping strategies when arriving to a similar situation. This finding can be related to Paper II and IV showing that stress of conscience increased the risk of both EE and DP. The associations between troubled conscience and the risk of experiencing both emotional exhaustion and depersonalization indicate that stress of conscience should be considered when studying the influence of the psychosocial work environment on burnout. Results from this study show that the psychosocial work environment is not satisfying and needs improvement for patrolling police officers in Sweden. Further studies including both qualitative and quantitative (longitudinal) methods should be used to improve knowledge in this area to increase conditions for preventive and rehabilitative actions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. 55 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1578
Patrolling police officers, qualitative content analysis, health, burnout, troubled conscience, coping, demand, decision latitude, social support, multiple logistic regression, factor analysis, differential item functioning, gender patterns
National Category
Research subject
Caring Sciences
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-71206 (URN)978-91-7459-675-5 (Print) (ISBN)978-91-7459-676-2 (PDF) (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-06-14, Aulan, Vårdvetarhuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-05-24 Created: 2013-05-23 Last updated: 2013-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Backteman-Erlanson, SusannJacobsson, AnnÖster, IngerBrulin, Christine
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