Stress management interventions for police officers and recruits: a meta-analysis

Abstract

Objective

A systematic review was conducted to examine the effects of stress management interventions on outcomes among police officers and recruits.

Methods

The search methods included searching electronic databases, journals, books, conference proceedings, websites and contacting organizations and authors. Inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies, and any type of stress management intervention given to police officers, recruits or civilian law enforcement personnel.

Results

The 12 primary studies included in the systematic review were published between 1984 and 2008 and included 8 published studies, 3 unpublished doctoral dissertations, and 1 unpublished report. The sample was comprised of 906 participants, with an average age of 34.48 years, and an average of 10.77 years of police experience. The average duration of the interventions was 10.95 h with a range of 30 min to 24 h. A total of 221 effects were examined in a metaanalysis. Effect sizes were calculated separately for physiological, psychological and behavioral outcomes. The overall mean effect for physiological outcomes was 0.196, 0.038 among psychological outcomes, and −0.176 among behavioral outcomes. These small effect sizes suggest that the interventions were not effective. Moderator analyses results did not show any meaningful differences across the studies.

Conclusions

Further research is needed to develop and implement effective stress management interventions intended for police officers and recruits that address specific field work, organizational and personal stressors, utilize randomized controlled trials, and indicate the primary, secondary or tertiary focus of the intervention.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the National Policing Improvement Agency, Campbell Collaboration Crime and Justice Group, and George Mason University for funding this systematic review; David B. Wilson for assistance with data analysis and earlier versions of this paper; Daniel Schmidt for managing the study selection process and references; and Marvie Brooks and John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) for assisting with the search strategy.

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Patterson, G.T., Chung, I.W. & Swan, P.W. Stress management interventions for police officers and recruits: a meta-analysis. J Exp Criminol 10, 487–513 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-014-9214-7

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Keywords

  • Stress management interventions
  • Police officers
  • Police recruits
  • Systematic review
  • Meta-analysis