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The relationship between potentially traumatic experiences, generic workplace stressors and mental health within a large UK police force.

Kerr, Robert and McHugh, Marie (2010) The relationship between potentially traumatic experiences, generic workplace stressors and mental health within a large UK police force. In: European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference, Rome. Nottingham University Press. 459 pp. [Conference contribution]

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Objectives: To investigate the relationship between generic workplace stressors, potentially traumatic experiences and mental health within a large UK police force.Methods: An anonymous cross-sectional questionnaire was distributed by e-mail to all employees within the Police Service Northern Ireland. Generic workplace stressors were assessed using the UK Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards Indicator Tool (IT). A six item scale was created to assess the respondents’ frequency of exposure to potentially traumatic events while on duty. An example event would be ‘the scene of a traumatic death’. Individual item responses were aggregated to create a ‘traumatic exposure’ score. Mental health was assessed by the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), as well as Breslau’s 7-item screen for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Single item measures investigating ‘stress at home’ and ‘stress at work’ were also included. Controlling for age, gender, years of service and rank, associations were investigated using regression statistics.Results: A total of 2,715 employees completed the questionnaire, representing a response rate of 29%. The Indicator Tool (IT) scores explained 34% of variance in GHQ-12, 41% of the variance in ‘Stress at work’, 14% of the variance in PTSD responses, and less than 1% of the variance of ‘stress at home’ responses. All of the Indicator Tool (IT) subscales displayed a strong negative association with both GHQ-12 and ‘stress at work’ scores. The IT ‘demands’, ‘peer support’, and ‘relationships’ subscales were negatively associated with Breslau’s PTSD screen scores. Only the IT ‘relationships’ subscale displayed a weak negative relationship with the ‘stress at home’ scores. Only 29% (n=793) of respondents had no exposure to potentially traumatic events. As expected, ‘traumatic exposure’ scores were positively associated with GHQ-12, PTSD, and ‘stress at work’ scores. However the scale of these associations was lower than expected. The ‘traumatic exposure’ scores explained 4% of the variance in PTSD scores and less than 1% of the variance in the other dependent variables. The ‘traumatic exposure’ scores were not associated with ‘stress at home’ scores.Implications: This study provides empirical evidence to support the use of the Management Standards Indicator Tool and the Management Standards approach in tackling workplace stress.Conclusions: The HSE Management Standards Indicator Tool is a valid and reliable measure of workplace stressors. These workplace stressors are associated with employee mental health.Within police organisations generic workplace stressors may have a greater overall impact on employee mental health than exposure to potentially traumatic events.

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Faculties and Schools:Ulster Business School > Department of Management and Leadership
Ulster Business School
Research Institutes and Groups:Business and Management Research Institute
ID Code:29371
Deposited By: Dr Robert Kerr
Deposited On:28 Apr 2014 14:52
Last Modified:28 Apr 2014 14:52

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