Predictors of post-traumatic stress symptoms among South African police personnel

Jones R. ; Kagee A. (2005)


The present study investigated the relationship between coping style, perceived social support, length of service experience, age, and gender on symptoms of post-traumatic stress among members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Western Cape. In Phase 1 of the study, 19 police officers participated in a series of qualitative interviews aimed at eliciting a list of duty-related stressors that formed the basis of a stressor questionnaire. In Phase 2 of the study 97 officers from twelve police stations in the western metropolis of Cape Town completed a battery of questionnaires that assessed stressful experiences, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, coping, social and family support, and various demographic variables. The first multiple regression analysis showed that problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping and perceived social support explained 42.6% of the variance in the severity of post-traumatic stress scores, although problem-focused coping was positively associated with symptom severity (β = 0.68). In the second multiple regression analysis, coping was entered as a composite variable and, together with perceived social support, accounted for 29.3% of the variance in post-traumatic stress scores. These results imply a need to enhance specific coping skills among police officers in addressing duty-related traumatic stressors and to fortify social support structures both within the police service and in the private lives of officers. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.

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