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Trajectories of Mental Health Status Among Police Recruits in Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Police Education Unit at Umeå University. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6906-1480
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Police Education Unit at Umeå University. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8296-5313
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Police Education Unit at Umeå University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1230-6720
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7087-1467
2022 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychiatry, E-ISSN 1664-0640, Vol. 12, article id 753800Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The stressful and complex nature of police work and its adverse effects on mental health are well-documented in police research. The mental health of police students however, has not been given the same attention. To the best of our knowledge, studies on the mental health of Swedish police recruits have not been undertaken since 2010.

Objectives: The present study aims to examine whether there are differences in the mental health between two cohorts (2009 and 2020) of Swedish police recruits, as well as to compare the mental health of both cohorts with the general population data collected in 2002.

Methods: Data was collected using the SCL-90-R survey. Data was analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and independent sample T-tests. Bi-variate analyses including t-test and chi-square were used to examine differences in sociodemographic variables between the two cohorts.

Results: A total of 376 police recruits participated in the study. Results indicated no significant differences between the cohorts with regards to the three global indices of the SCL-90-R: Global Severity Index (GSI), Positive Symptom Total (PST), and Positive Symptom Distress Index (PSDI). Recruits with a college degree had lower scores on GSI and PSDI, similar to respondents that where in a relationship vs. singles. A total of 15 (four female) recruits had GSI scores above the Swedish patient mean. Compared with the general population, males and females from the 2009, as well as females from the 2020 cohorts had lower or insignificantly different mean scores on all global indices, with males from the 2020 cohort having a significantly lower PST score.

Conclusions: While the vast majority of recruits had results that where indicative of a low prevalence and intensity with regards to mental health disorders, some recruits did score above the Swedish patient mean. While mental preparedness is part of the curriculum for Swedish police recruits, interventions targeting the stigmas of poor mental health could be of value. The fact that educational attainment appears to have a positive impact on the mental health of police recruits, could be taken in to consideration when recruiting future police officers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media S.A., 2022. Vol. 12, article id 753800
Keywords [en]
education, law enforcement, mental health, police, police training
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Psychiatry
Research subject
police science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-192743DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.753800ISI: 000759862800001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85124726474OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-192743DiVA, id: diva2:1640460
Available from: 2022-02-24 Created: 2022-02-24 Last updated: 2024-01-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Conflict management & mental health among Swedish police officers & recruits
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conflict management & mental health among Swedish police officers & recruits
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Konflikthantering och mental hälsa bland svenska poliser och polisstudenter
Abstract [en]

Introduction: An essential part of police work is handling people in distress, often related to some form of conflict that police officers are expected to handle in a professional manner. Thus, interpersonal and conflict management skills are essential for police officers. Further, police work has been hailed as one of the most complex and stressful jobs that one can have. While important progress has been made in relation to how the complex and stressful nature of police work affects the individual officers - less is known about the timing and onset of these effects. Similarly, while there is a growing body of research into police conflict management, more research is needed to deepen our understanding of police conflict management, not least in the Swedish context. The overall aim of the present thesis was to contribute to existing knowledge about police work by investigating conflict management and mental health among Swedish police recruits and officers.

Materials and methods: The present thesis used a mixed-methods approach and is built on four sub-studies. Sub-study 1 examined the evidence base for current practices, methods, and training in conflict management by means of a scoping review. Sub-study 2 used semi-structured interviews to examine how police officers perceived conflict and conflict-management and their training within the subject. Results from sub-study 2 where also used increating items for the instrument developed in sub-study 4. Sub-study 3 used a quantitative design to examine the mental health status of Swedish police recruits using the SCL-90 questionnaire. Sub-study 4 documented the initial steps towards developing an instrument to measure conflict behaviors and attitudes to conflict management among police officers and evaluated the psychometric properties of this instrument.

Results: A large proportion of the studies included in the scoping review were conducted in the US and manyfocused-on use of force. The results also indicate that a lack of available data, unified definitions and experimental as well as longitudinal research designs makes it difficult to draw causal conclusions regarding the effectiveness of training in conflict management. In the interviews, respondents described conflict largely in terms of interpersonal conflicts, and focused less on intrapersonal conflict. The complexity and importance of the role played by instructors during probationary training was also salient in their descriptions. As for mental health status, recruits overall reported scores that where similar to the general population. A small number of recruits (n = 15) reported scores that where above the patient mean of the Swedish general population in the corresponding age group. The intended factor structure of the instrument developed could not be operationalized in the instruments current form, but the instrument could still provide insights and provides a basis for further development of the instrument.

Conclusions: To enhance our understanding on police conflict management, scholars and police departments should work together to agree upon unified definitions on key concepts related to this topic. More research using longitudinal and experimental designs are needed to further develop training interventions related to conflict management. While a small number of recruits reported scores above the Swedish patient mean, extant research has indicated that stigmas surrounding mental health among police could lead to unconstructive coping behaviors. Further research on mental health among not only Swedish police officers but also recruits, could focus on helpseeking-behaviors and stigmas related to mental health to provide valuable insights on the topic. The instrument developed within the present thesis needs further development but nonetheless represents a first step towards examining individual differences in relation to police conflict management behaviors and attitudes towards conflict.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2022. p. 78
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 2217
Series
Umeå Studies in the Educational Sciences ; 56
Keywords
personality, law-enforcement public health, mental health, police training, stigma, educational science
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201695 (URN)978-91-7855-958-9 (ISBN)978-91-7855-959-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-01-20, NBET.A.101, building NBVH, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-12-21 Created: 2022-12-15 Last updated: 2022-12-16Bibliographically approved

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Emsing, MikaelPadyab, MojganGhazinour, MehdiHurtig, Anna-Karin

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