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