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Beyond the badge: police officers’ lifestyles and health
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Section of Occupational Therapy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3659-1351
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Mer än yrket : polisers livsstil och hälsa (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Introduction: Being a frontline police officer is regarded to be one of the most high-strain professions in the world, encompassing physical, emotional and cognitive stressors. These stressors may cause ill health, physically, mentally and socially, impacting both professional and private life roles and everyday activities. Despite this, there has been limited consideration of the broader complexities of police officers’ lifestyles. Thus, the primary aim of this thesis was to identify health promoters and health challenges within the lifestyles of frontline police officers using a transactional perspective. The secondary aim was to translate these findings into the initial developmental stages of an instrument targeting critical areas of police officers’ lifestyles to foster health sustainability.

Method: The thesis includes four studies. In Study I, a method for scoping reviews was used when gathering data from previously conducted studies within Europe. Studies II and III were qualitative studies using in-depth interviews. In Study II a reflexive thematic analysis was used, whereas in Study III qualitative content analysis was utilized. Study IV builds on data from the other studies. During the early development process of the instrument focus groups, cognitive interviewing methods and a content validity approach were undertaken.

Findings: Altogether, the findings offer insights into how police officers’ lifecontexts, roles and everyday activities transact to become their unique lifestyles. In Study I the life contexts affecting police officers’ lives and health were mapped. It was concluded that research on police officers’ private lives is limited in Europe, despite contextual and environmental influences on their lives and health. In Studies II and III it was found that balancing work with private-life activities and roles included health challenges and resources. The findings relate to balancing risk and violence with vigilance in private life, societal attitudes with the police identity, work with healthy routines and habits, and unpredictability with stability. Study IV took initial steps towards crafting a self-reflection instrument targeting the essential conditions for living a sustainable and healthy lifestyle asa police officer.

Conclusion: This thesis illuminates the complex interplay of factors that definethe unique lifestyles of police officers, influenced by their life contexts, roles, and everyday activities. It highlights the importance of both organizational strategies and police officers utilizing health-promoting strategies in maintaining asustainable lifestyle essential for fostering health sustainability. In the context of societal challenges and the need for a strong police force, maintaining police officers’ health sustainability is crucial for the benefit of both the Police Authority and society.

Abstract [sv]

Introduktion: Att vara polis i yttre tjänst anses vara ett av de mest påfrestande yrkena i världen, med avseende på de fysiska, emotionella och kognitiva stressfaktorer som yrket innebär. Dessa stressorer kan leda till ohälsa, både fysiskt, mentalt och socialt, vilket kan påverka både professionella och privata roller och vardagsaktiviteter. Dock har väldigt lite gjorts för att närma sig den komplexitet som finns gällande polisers livsstil. Därför var det primära syftet med avhandlingen att identifiera hälsopromotorer och hälsoutmaningar gällande livsstil hos poliser i yttre tjänst, utifrån ett transaktionellt perspektiv. Det sekundära syftet var att översätta dessa fynd till de inledande stegen i utvecklingen av ett instrument, som fokuserar på kritiska områden avseende polisers livsstil för att främja hållbarhet gällande deras hälsa.

Metod: Avhandlingen omfattar fyra studier. I Studie I användes en metod för översiktsstudier där data samlades från tidigare genomförda studier i Europa. Studierna II-III var kvalitativa studier med djupintervjuer. I Studie II användes en reflexiv tematisk analys, medan kvalitativ innehållsanalys användes i Studie III. Studie IV bygger på data från övriga studier. Under de första faserna i utvecklingen av instrumentet användes fokusgrupper, kognitiva intervjuer och en innehållsvalideringsmetod.

Resultat: Sammantaget ger resultaten insikt i hur polisers livskontexter, roller och aktiviteter växelverkar för att bli deras unika livsstilar. I Studie I kartlades hur polisernas livskontexter påverkar deras liv och hälsa. Slutsatsen var att forskning om polisers privata liv är begränsad i Europa, trots den påverkan som kontext och miljö har på deras liv och hälsa. I Studierna II och III upptäcktes att balansen mellan polisernas arbete, samt aktiviteter och roller i privatlivet innebar både utmaningar och resurser för hälsan. Resultaten är kopplade till hur de balanserar risk och våld med vaksamhet i privatlivet, samhällets attityder med polisidentiteten, sitt arbete med hälsosamma rutiner och vanor, samt oförutsägbarhet med stabilitet. I Studie IV togs de initiala steg i utformningen av ett instrument för självreflektion som fokuserar på de grundläggande förutsättningarna för att leva en hållbar och hälsosam livsstil som polis.

Konklusion: Denna avhandling belyser den komplexa interaktion av faktorer som definierar polisers unika livsstilar, påverkade av deras livskontexter, roller och vardagsaktiviteter. Den belyser vikten av organisatoriska strategier, såväl som polisers hälsofrämjande strategier i att upprätthålla en hållbar livsstil viktig för att främja hållbarhet gällande hälsa. I ljuset av samhällsutmaningar och behovet av en stark poliskår är upprätthållande av polisers hållbarhet gällande hälsa av yttersta vikt, både för Polismyndigheten och samhället.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2023. , p. 94
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 2274
Keywords [en]
Frontline police officers, Instrument development, Life balance, Life contexts, Mental health, Occupational balance, Occupational patterns, Physical health, Role balance, Social health
Keywords [sv]
poliser i yttre tjänst, instrument utveckling, livsbalans, livskontexter, psykisk hälsa, aktivitetsbalans, aktivitetsmönster, fysisk hälsa, rollbalans, social hälsa
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Research subject
Occupational therapy; police science; sustainability
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-217947ISBN: 978-91-8070-223-2 (print)ISBN: 978-91-8070-224-9 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-217947DiVA, id: diva2:1819141
Public defence
2024-01-18, Aula Biologica, Biologihuset, Linneaus väg 7, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-12-21 Created: 2023-12-13 Last updated: 2024-01-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Exploring the life contexts of patrolling police officers in the European Union – A scoping review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the life contexts of patrolling police officers in the European Union – A scoping review
2023 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, ISSN 1103-8128, E-ISSN 1651-2014, Vol. 30, no 5, p. 585-603Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Patrolling police officers engage in different mentally, socially, and physically challenging life contexts which may affect their life and health. The aim of this scoping review is twofold, to explore life contexts of patrolling officers in the European Union, and to investigate how their lives and health are affected by environmental characteristics within these contexts.

Methods: The scoping review followed Arksey and O’Malley’s methodology and included a critical appraisal. The environmental model within Kielhofner’s Model of Human Occupation was used in the thematic analysis. The review was reported following PRISMA-ScR.

Results: In the 16 included studies, two contexts (where environments interact with persons on different levels) were discovered: the global and the immediate context. No local contexts were found. Primarily, research on the social, and occupational environments, including qualities identified in these environments were found. However, some environmental characteristics within patrolling officers’ physical environments were also discovered.

Discussion: This review contributes to the emerging research area of police officers’ life contexts, by mapping contexts and environments affecting their life and health. However, to get a deeper understanding of how officers are affected by their environments, interviewing them regarding how their different contexts affect their everyday living, would be important.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2023
Keywords
Activity, environment, health, MOHO, occupational, patrol duty, physical, social, thematic analysis
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Research subject
Occupational therapy; police science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-192771 (URN)10.1080/11038128.2022.2041088 (DOI)000761484700001 ()35225165 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85125928893 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-02-27 Created: 2022-02-27 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Being a top cop in pursuit of a sustainable lifestyle
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Being a top cop in pursuit of a sustainable lifestyle
2023 (English)In: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, ISSN 1748-2623, E-ISSN 1748-2631, Vol. 18, no 1, article id 2235789Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has widely recognized the challenges uniformed police officers face in their working lives. However, little is known about the overall lifestyles of police officers, including what they do in private life. We interviewed 17 officers and used reflexive thematic analysis to explore their experiences. The study sheds light on how uniformed police officers navigate the intersection between their private and professional lives, as well as how their professional role impacts their day-to-day doings and private life roles. The key findings relate to how the demands of their professional role impact their private life, such as the profession becoming a way of life. Furthermore, they highlight the challenges of avoiding certain environments where they might be recognized as police officers. It also entails balancing energy levels in work and private life, as well as how their profession’s unpredictability affects their daily routines and roles. The findings also show how their personal choices in private life are frequently influenced by their professional role. The study’s findings have theoretical as well as practical implications, contributing to a better understanding of uniformed police officers’ challenges and resources for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

Keywords
balance in life, first responder, health, occupational patterns, patrol service, police officer, reflexive thematic analysis, roles, spare-time activities, work-life conflict
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Research subject
police science; Occupational therapy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-212296 (URN)10.1080/17482631.2023.2235789 (DOI)001029676500001 ()37469287 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85165246968 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Kempe Foundations
Available from: 2023-07-20 Created: 2023-07-20 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
3. How police officers juggle work, a life partner, and kids
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How police officers juggle work, a life partner, and kids
2023 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 14, article id 1178314Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Police officers frequently encounter stressful social situations during their working days. Furthermore, previous research on policing and families show that police officers’ families are impacted in different ways when at least one member of the family has the role of a police officer. Despite work spilling over to family life there is currently little research on police officers’ role-balancing. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore and describe the challenges that arise at the intersection between police officers’ professional roles and their private life roles as parents and life partners, as well as how police officers balance these roles in between. We used qualitative content analysis after interviewing 13 uniformed police officers. The findings show how the police officers’ professional roles affect their private life roles within three different sub-themes and are summarized under the theme of "Balancing conflicting roles: Coping with professional and private life commitments". The theme revolves around the various challenges of working as a uniformed police officer, such as hypervigilance and risks, as well as the enrichments and conflicts of working shifts while also juggling private life roles. The results also touch on gender and equality in life-partner relationships. The study raises an important question about how these challenges can be mitigated within Police authorities to enable uniformed police officers to balance their professional and personal lives in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media S.A., 2023
Keywords
aktivitetsvetenskap, arbetsterapi, polisers hälsa
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Research subject
Occupational therapy; police science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-212025 (URN)10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1178314 (DOI)37484103 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85165178650 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-07-13 Created: 2023-07-13 Last updated: 2023-12-13Bibliographically approved
4. Designing the Police sustainability and wellness instrument
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Designing the Police sustainability and wellness instrument
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Police officers’ lifestyles, and what they need for a sustainable lifestyle, are rarely addressed within police health research. The reason is partly that no specific tool exists to detect the conditions for living a sustainable and healthy lifestyle within this profession. Thus, the study aims to describe the initial steps and process during the development stage, towards creating an instrument targeting conditions for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle of police officers.Several steps were taken during the initial development stages of the instrument. Firstly, the construct ‘conditions for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle of police officers’ was defined by identifying theoretical dimensionality and operationalizing the construct using two focus groups. One focus group included seven occupational therapists skilled in occupational therapy and -science. The other focus group included four persons with knowledge of police officers’ health or work conditions. Secondly, items were identified, selected, and developed, and a draft of items was tested during cognitive interviews, to assess response processes with 28 police officers. Ultimately, the instrument used a content validity approach with nine occupational therapists. A total of 48 persons were enrolled in the study.In summary, our study provides transparency during the initial developmental stage of an instrument with the working name Police Sustainability and Wellness Instrument (PSWI), including its theoretical model and dimensions. The instrument requires additional validation testing, aiming to establish its suitability as a screening tool for the construct, and feasibility testing for its applicability in facilitating self-reflection.

Keywords
occupational science, occupational therapy, police officers' health, life balance, instrument, self-reflection, aktivitetsvetenskap, arbetsterapi, polisers hälsa, livsbalans, instrument, självreflektion
National Category
Health Sciences
Research subject
police science; Occupational therapy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-217946 (URN)
Available from: 2023-12-13 Created: 2023-12-13 Last updated: 2023-12-13

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