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Assessment of Stress and Resiliency in Emergency Dispatchers


Although they are technically the first responders on most critical incidents, emergency dispatchers have received a modicum of attention from researchers and clinicians. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate job-related stress, psychological distress, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress resiliency, and posttraumatic growth in this high-risk group. These areas were evaluated via an assessment battery administered to 90 emergency dispatchers working in a law enforcement agency. Results showed that dispatchers experienced an average amount of occupational stress, with 24% of the current sample reporting significant job stress. Between 13.34 and 15.56% reported symptoms consistent with a PTSD diagnosis, and 16.67% indicated sub-threshold PTSD symptomatology. The findings revealed that, overall, dispatchers experience occupational stress, psychological distress, and sub-threshold PTSD at similar or higher rates compared to police officers. Further, dispatchers reported posttraumatic growth at an average rate, also similar to that reported by police officers. Clinical implications of the results are discussed. Suggestions for directions that future research might take are offered.

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This project was funded by a $2,000 grant received from the Chancellor’s Faculty and Research Development Grant through Nova Southeastern University. This funding was used to compensate participants in the form of a $20 gift card to a local charity.

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Correspondence to Bryan Steinkopf.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee at Nova Southeastern University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. No identifying information was used for any participants in the study.

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Steinkopf, B., Reddin, R.A., Black, R.A. et al. Assessment of Stress and Resiliency in Emergency Dispatchers. J Police Crim Psych 33, 398–411 (2018).

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  • Dispatchers
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Occupational stress
  • Law enforcement