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Conflict management & mental health among Swedish police officers & recruits
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Police Education Unit at Umeå University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6906-1480
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Konflikthantering och mental hälsa bland svenska poliser och polisstudenter (Swedish)
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 [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201695ISBN: 978-91-7855-958-9 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7855-959-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-201695DiVA, id: diva2:1719482
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
List of papers
1. Police conflict management: a scoping review
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Police conflict management: a scoping review
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201680 (URN)
Available from: 2022-12-14 Created: 2022-12-14 Last updated: 2022-12-15
2. Swedish Police Officers’ Perceptions of Conflict Management Training in School and Probationary Training
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish Police Officers’ Perceptions of Conflict Management Training in School and Probationary Training
2020 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Studies in Policing, E-ISSN 2703-7045, Vol. 7, no 2, p. 80-98Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to increase knowledge of how police officers define conflict and conflict management as well as how they perceive their training in conflict management, in relation to previous experiences, in-school training and their probationary training. Swedish police officers (n = 20) who had recently finished their probationary training were interviewed focusing on conflict and conflict management. The study shows that the respondents had general descriptions of conflict, which focused almost solely on interpersonal conflict. Further, the development of adaptive conflict behaviors during probationary training was largely dependent on their instructors, whose role and tasks are very complex. In addition, respondents reported an accelerated maturation process of sorts, in which they described themselves as less naïve and more cynical, despite their short time at work. The findings in this study might provide valuable insights into how police officers perceive conflict and conflict management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Universitetsforlaget, 2020
Keywords
conflict management, law enforcement, police, professional training, Sweden
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
police science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-177403 (URN)10.18261/issn.1894-8693-2020-02-02 (DOI)2-s2.0-85106871641 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2020-12-09 Created: 2020-12-09 Last updated: 2023-02-07Bibliographically approved
3. Trajectories of Mental Health Status Among Police Recruits in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trajectories of Mental Health Status Among Police Recruits in Sweden
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
Keywords
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:nbn:se:umu:diva-192743 (URN)10.3389/fpsyt.2021.753800 (DOI)000759862800001 ()2-s2.0-85124726474 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-02-24 Created: 2022-02-24 Last updated: 2024-01-17Bibliographically approved
4. PCI: development of an instrument to assess on- and off-duty police conflict behaviors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>PCI: development of an instrument to assess on- and off-duty police conflict behaviors
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-201682 (URN)
Available from: 2022-12-14 Created: 2022-12-14 Last updated: 2022-12-15

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