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Risk Factors for Posttraumatic Stress Symptomatology in Police Officers: A Prospective Analysis

CARLIER, INGRID V.E. PSY.D., PH.D.; LAMBERTS, REGINA D. PSY.D; GERSONS, BERTHOLD P.R. M.D., PH.D1

The Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: August 1997 - Volume 185 - Issue 8 - p 498-506
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This study examines internal and external risk factors for posttraumatic stress symptoms in 262 traumatized police officers. Results show that 7% of the entire sample had PTSD, as established by means of a structured interview; 34% had posttraumatic stress symptoms or subthreshold PTSD. Trauma severity was the only predictor of posttraumatic stress symptoms identified at both 3 and 12 months posttrauma. At 3 months posttrauma, symptomatology was further predicted by introversion, difficulty in expressing feelings, emotional exhaustion at time of trauma, insufficient time allowed by employer for coming to terms with the trauma, dissatisfaction with organizational support, and insecure job future. At 12 months posttrauma, posttraumatic stress symptoms were further predicted by lack of hobbies, acute hyperarousal, subsequent traumatic events, job dissatisfaction, brooding over work, and lack of social interaction support in the private sphere. Implications of the findings regarding organizational risk factors are discussed in the light of possible occupational health interventions.

1 Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Tafelbergweg 25, 1105 BC Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Carlier.

This study was supported by grants from the Dutch police forces, the Prevention Fund, and the General Civil Pension Fund.

© Williams & Wilkins 1997. All Rights Reserved.