American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 354–370 | Cite as

Do Work-Family Conflict and Resiliency Mediate Police Stress and Burnout: a Study of State Police Officers

  • Jennifer D. GriffinEmail author
  • Ivan Y. Sun


Occupational stress and burnout have long been recognized as common hazards among police officers. The present study examines whether demographic characteristics and assignment affect police officers’ work-family conflict (WFC), resiliency, stress and burnout, and whether WFC and resiliency mediate the stress and burnout of police officers. The data were collected from a Mid-Atlantic state police agency in the United States of America through a web-based survey. Regression results revealed that minority officers tended to have lower levels of WFC and burnout and better educated officers reported lower degrees of WFC and stress. WFC was positively related to stress and burnout, while resilience was inversely linked to stress and burnout. The effects of race and education disappeared when WFC and resiliency entered the regression, suggesting that their impact was largely mediated by WFC and resiliency. Lastly, stress was found to be positively associated with burnout. Implications for research and policy are discussed.


Police officers Stress Burnout Work-family conflict Resiliency 


  1. Abdollahi, M. (2002). Understanding police stress research. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 2, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anshel, M. H. (2000). A conceptual model and implications for coping with stressful events in police work. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 27, 375–400. Google Scholar
  3. Arnetz, B., Nevedal, D., Lumley, M. A., Backman, L., & Lublin, A. (2009). Trauma resilience training for police: Psychophysiological and performance effects. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 24, 1–9.Google Scholar
  4. Arnetz, B., Arble, E., Backman, L., Lynch, A., & Lublin, A. (2013). Assessment of a prevention program for work-related stress among urban police officers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 86, 79–88.Google Scholar
  5. Balmer, G., Pooley, J., & Cohen, L. (2013). Psychological resilience of western Australian police officers: Relationship between resilience, coping style, psychological functioning and demographics. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 15, 270–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baron, R., & Kenny, D. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartone, P. (2007). Test-retest reliability of the dispositional resilience scale-15, a brief hardiness scale. Psychological Reports, 101, 943–944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berg, A., Hem, E., Lau, B., Loeb, M., & Ekeberg, O. (2003). Suicidal ideation and attempts in Norwegian police. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 33, 302–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boggild, H., Burr, H., Tuchsen, F., & Jeppesen, J. (2001). Work environment of Danish shift and day workers. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environmental and Health, 27, 97–105.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, J., & Campbell, E. (1994). Stress and policing: Sources and strategies. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, J. M., & Campbell, E. A. (1990). Sources of occupational stress in the police. Work & Stress, 4(4), 305–318.Google Scholar
  12. Burke, R. (1988). Some antecedents and consequences of work-family conflict. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 3, 287–302.Google Scholar
  13. Burke, R. (1993). Work-family stress, conflict, coping, and burnout in police officers. Stress Medicine, 9, 171–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Burke, R. (1994). Stressful events, work-family conflict, coping, psychological burnout, and well-being among police officers. Psychological Reports, 75, 787–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burke, R., & Mikkelsen, A. (2007). Suicidal ideation among police officers in Norway. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 30, 228–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Burke, R.J., & Mikkelsen, A. (2006). Burnout among Norwegian police officers: Potential antecedents and consequences.  International Journal of Stress Management, 13(1), 64–83.Google Scholar
  17. Burke, R., & Richardsen, A. (1993). Psychological burnout in organizations. In R. Golembiewski (Ed.), Handbook of organizational behavior (pp. 263–298). New York: Dekker.Google Scholar
  18. Burke, R., Shearer, J., & Deszca, G. (1984). Burnout among men and women in police work: An examination of the Cherniss model. Journal of Health and Human Resources Administration, 13x, 162–188.Google Scholar
  19. Carlson, D. S., Kacmar, K. M., & Williams, L. J. (2000). Construction and initial   validation of a multidimensional measure of work-family conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 56, 249–276.Google Scholar
  20. Christopher, M., Goerling, R., Rogers, B., Hunsinger, M., Baron, G., Bergman, A., & Zava, D. (2015). A pilot study evaluating the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention on cortisol awakening response and health outcomes among law enforcement officers. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 1–14.Google Scholar
  21. Cinamon, R. C., & Rich, Y. (2002). Gender differences in the importance of work and family roles: Implications for the work-family conflict. Sex Roles, 47, 531–541.Google Scholar
  22. Collins, P. H. 1986. Learning from the outsider within: The sociological significance of Black feminist thought. Social Problems, 33(6): S14–S31.Google Scholar
  23. Copes, H. (2005). Policing and stress. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Costa, G. (1996). The impact of shift and night work on health.  Applied Ergonomics, 27(1), 9–16.Google Scholar
  25. Dempsey, J., & Forst, I. (2009). An Introduction to policing (5th ed.). Delmar: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  26. Deverts, D. J., Cohen, S., DiLillo, V. G., Lewis, C. E., Kiefe, C., Whooley, M., & Matthews, K. A. (2010). Depressive Symptoms, Race, and Circulating C-Reactive Protein: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(8), 734–741.Google Scholar
  27. Dowler, K. (2005). Job Satisfaction, Burnout, and Perception of Unfair Treatment: The relationship between race and police work. Police Quarterly, 8(4), 476–489. Google Scholar
  28. Ellison, K. W. (2004). Stress and the Police Officer (2nd ed.).  Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.Google Scholar
  29. Finn, P. (2000). On the job stress in policing-reducing and preventing it. National Institute of Justice Journal, 242, 18–24.Google Scholar
  30. Fu, C. K. & Shaffer, M. A. (2001). The tug of work and family: Direct and indirect domain‐specific determinants of work‐family conflict. Personnel Review, 30(5), 502–522.Google Scholar
  31. Gaines, J., & Jermier, J. (1983). Emotional exhaustion in a high stress organization. Academy of Management Journal, 26, 567–586.Google Scholar
  32. Gershon, R., Barocas, B., Canton, A., Li, X., & Vlahov, D. (2009). Mental, physical, and behavioral outcomes associated with perceived work stress in police officers. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36, 275–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gornick, J., & Meyers, M. (2005). Families that work: Policies for reconciling parenthood and employment. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  34. Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10, 76–88.Google Scholar
  35. Grosswald, B. (2015). Shift work and negative work-to-family spillover. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 30, 31–56.Google Scholar
  36. Haarr, R. (1997). Patterns of interaction in a police patrol bureau: Race and gender barriers to integration. Justice Quarterly, 14, 53–85.Google Scholar
  37. Haarr, R., & Morash, M. (1999). Gender, race and strategies of coping with occupational stress in policing. Justice Quarterly, 16, 303–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hall, G., Dollard, M., Tuckey, M., Winefield, A., & Thompson, B. (2010). Job demands, work-family conflict, and emotional exhaustion in police officers: A longitudinal test of competing theories. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83, 237–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hassell, K., & Brandl, S. (2009). An examination of the workplace experiences of police patrol officers: The role of race, sex, and sexual orientation. Police Quarterly, 12, 408–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hawkins, H. (2001). Police officer burnout: A partial replication of Maslach’s burnout inventory. Police Quarterly, 4, 343–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. He, N., Zhao, J., & Archbold, C. (2002). Gender and police stress: The convergent and divergent impact of work environment, work- family conflict, and stress coping mechanisms of female and male police officers. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 25, 687–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. He, N., Zhao, J., & Ren, L. (2005). Do race and gender matter in police stress? A preliminary assessment of the interactive effects. Journal of Criminal Justice, 33, 535–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Holder, K., Nee, C., & Ellis, T. (2000). Triple jeopardy? Black and Asian women police officers’ experiences and discrimination. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 3, 68–87.Google Scholar
  44. Howard, W., Donofrio, H., & Boles, J. (2004). Inter-domain work-family, family-work conflict and police work satisfaction. Policing: An International Journal of Policing Strategies Management, 27, 380–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Jackson, S., & Maslach, C. (1982). After-effects of job-related stress: Families as victims. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 3, 63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Janzen, B., Muhajarine, N., & Kelly, I. (2007). Work-family conflict and psychological distress in men and women among Canadian police officers. Psychological Reports, 100, 556–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Johnson, L., Todd, M., & Subramanian, G. (2005). Violence in police families: Work-family spillover. Journal of Family Violence, 20, 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kinman, G., McDowall, A., & Cropley, M. (2012). Work-family conflict and job-related wellbeing in UK police officers: The role of recovery strategies. In Proceedings from Institute of Work Psychology International Conference: Work, Wellbeing and Performance, Sheffield.
  49. Kirkcaldy, B., Brown, J., & Cooper, C. (1998). The demographics of occupational stress among police superintendents. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 13, 90–101.Google Scholar
  50. Kobasa, S. C. (1979). Stressful life events, personality, and health: An inquiry into hardiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1–11.Google Scholar
  51. Kobasa, S. C., Maddi, S. R., & Kahn, S. (1982). Hardiness and Health: A Prospective Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42(1), 168–177.Google Scholar
  52. Kurtz, D. L. (2008). Controlled burn: The gendering of stress and burnout in modern policing. Feminist Criminology, 3(3), 216–238. doi: 10.1177/1557085108321672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Loo, R. (2004). A typology of burnout types among police managers. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 27, 156–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Luckhaupt, S. E., Tak, S., & Calvert, G. M. (2010). The prevalence of short sleep duration by industry and occupation in the National Health Interview Survey. Sleep, 33(2), 149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ma, C., Andrew, M., Fekedulegn, D., Gu, J., Hartley, T., Charles, L., Violanti, J., & Burchfiel, C. (2015). Shift work and occupational stress in police officers. Safety and Health at Work, 6, 25–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Maguen, S., Metzler, T., McCaslin, S., Inslicht, S., Henn-Haase, C., Neylan, T., & Marmar, C. (2009). Routine work environment stress and PTSD symptoms in police officers. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 197, 754–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Martin, S. (1994). Outsider within the station house: The impact of race and gender on black women police. Social Problems, 41, 383–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Martin, S. E. & Jurik, N. C. (2007). Doing Justice, Doing Gender: Women in Legal and Criminal Justice Occupations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  59. Martinussena, M., Richardsen, A., & Burke, R. (2007). Job demands, job resources, and burnout among police officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 35, 239–249.Google Scholar
  60. Maslach, C. (1982). Burnout: The cost of caring. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  61. Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. (1984). Patterns of burnout among a national sample of public contact workers. Journal of Health and Human Resources Administration, 7, 189–212.Google Scholar
  62. Maslach, C. & Leiter, M. P. (2000). Burnout. In G. Fink (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Stress (pp. 358–362). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  63. Maslach, C., Jackson, S., & Leiter, M. (1996). Maslach burnout inventory manual (3rd ed.). Mountain View: CPP, Inc.Google Scholar
  64. McCarty, W., & Skogan, W. (2012). Job-related burnout among civilian and sworn police personnel. Police Quarterly, 16, 66–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McCarty, W., Zhao, J., & Garland, B. (2007). Occupational stress and burnout between male and female police officers: Are there any gender differences. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 30, 672–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. McCraty, R., & Atkinson, M. (2012). Resilience training program reduces physiological and psychological stress in police officers. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 1(5), 44–66. doi: 10.7453/gamj.2014.073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Mesmer-Magnus, J., & Viswesvaran, C. (2005). Convergence between measures of work-to-family and family-to-work conflict: A meta-analytic examination. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67, 215–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Mikkelsen, A., & Burke, R. (2004). Work-family concerns of Norwegian police officers: Antecedents and consequences. International Journal of Stress Management, 11, 429–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Miller, L. (2008). Stress and resilience in law enforcement training and practice. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 10(2), 109–124.Google Scholar
  70. Morash, M., & Haarr, R. N. (1995). Gender, workplace problems and stress in policing. Justice Quarterly, 12, 113–140.Google Scholar
  71. Netemeyer, R., Boles, J., & McMurrian, R. (1996). Development and validation of work-family conflict and family-work conflict scales. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 400–410.Google Scholar
  72. Noor, N. M. (2004). Work-family conflict, work-and-family-role salience, and women’s well-being. The Journal of Social Psychology, 144, 389–405.Google Scholar
  73. Ola, M., & Mathur, R. (2016). The convergent and divergent impact of work environment, work-family conflict, and stress coping mechanisms on female and male police officers. International Journal of Education & Management Studies, 6(1), 19–24.Google Scholar
  74. Paoline, E., Terrill, W., & Rossler, M. (2015). Higher education, college degree major, and police occupational attitudes. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 26, 49–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Patterson, G. T. (2003). Examining the effects of coping and social support on work and life stress among police officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 31, 215–226.Google Scholar
  76. Paton, D., Violanti, J. M., Johnston, P., Burke, K. J., Clarke, J., & Keenan, D. (2008). Stress shield: A model of police resiliency. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 10(2), 95–107.Google Scholar
  77. Peter, R., Alfredsson, L., Knutsson, A., Siegrist, J., & Westerholm, P. (1999). Does a stressful psychosocial work environment mediate the effects of shift work on cardiovascular risk factors? Scandinavia Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 25, 376–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Prati, G., & Pietrantoni, L. (2010). Risk and resilience factors among Italian municipal police officers exposed to critical incidents. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 25, 27–33.Google Scholar
  79. Rydberg, J., & Terrill, W. (2010). The effect of higher education on police behavior. Police Quarterly, 13, 92–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Slaven, J. E., Mnatsakanova, A., Burchfiel, C. M., Smith, L. M., Charles, L. E., Andrew, M. E., Ma, C., Fekeduelgn, D., & Violanti, J. M. (2011). Association of sleep quality with depression in police officers. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 13(4), 267–277.Google Scholar
  81. Southwick, S., & Charney, D. (2012). Resilience: The science of mastering life’s greatest challenges. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Symonds, M. (1970). Emotional hazards of police work. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 30, 155–160.Google Scholar
  83. Tang, T., & Hammontree, M. (1992). The effects of hardiness, police stress, and life stress on police officers’ illness and absenteeism. Public Personnel Management, 21, 493–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Telep, C. W. (2011). The impact of higher education on police officer attitudes toward abuse of authority. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 22(3), 392–419.Google Scholar
  85. Toch, H. (2002). Stress in policing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, APA Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vila, B. (2006). Impact of long work hours on police officers and the communities they serve. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 49, 972–980.Google Scholar
  87. Violanti, J. M. (2004). Predictors of police suicide ideation. Suicide and Life-Threat Behavior, 34, 277–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Violanti, J. M. (2007). Police suicide epidemic in blue. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.Google Scholar
  89. Violanti, J. M. (2014). Dying for the job: Police exposure and health. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.Google Scholar
  90. Violanti, J. M., & Aron, F. (1993). Sources of police stressors, job attitudes, and psychological distress. Psychological Reports, 72, 899–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Violanti, J., Burchfiel, C., Miller, D., Andrew, M., Dorn, J., Wactawski-Wende, J., Beighley, C., Pierino, K., Joseph, P., Vena, J., Sharp, D., & Trevisan, M. (2006). The buffalo cardio-metabolic occupational police stress (BCOPS) pilot study: Methods and participant characteristics. Annals of Epidemiology, 116, 148–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Webster, J. H. (2014). Perceived stress among police officers: An integrative model of stress and coping. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 37(4), 839–857. doi: 10.1108/PIJPSM-06-2014-0064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Youngcourt, S., & Huffman, A. (2005). Family-friendly policies in the police: Implications for work-family conflict. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 1, 138–162.Google Scholar
  94. Zhao, J., He, N., & Lovrich, N. (2002). Predicting five dimensions of police officer stress: Looking more deeply into organizational settings for sources of police stress. Police Quarterly, 5, 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Zimmerman, F. H. (2014). Cardiovascular risk in law enforcement. In J. Violanti (Ed.), Dying for the job police exposure and health (pp. 41–56). Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations