269494 Primary prevention of posttraumatic stress disorder among urban police

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eamonn Arble, MS , Clinical Psychology / Department of Family Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Bengt Arnetz, MD, PhD, MPH, MscEp , Dept.. Family Med. & Public Health Sci., Div. Occup. & Env. Health / Dept. of Public Health & Caring Sci., Uppsala Univ.Sweden, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Adam Lynch, MA , Department of Family Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Background. The prevalence of current, duty-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in police officers ranges between 7% and 19% (Marmar et al., 2006), rates much higher than the general population (Kessler et al., 2005). Unfortunately, little is known about how to modify the peri-traumatic risk factors that presage PTSD onset in police officers and others at high risk for trauma exposure (Feldner et al., 2007). The present study charts the development of such a method of primary prevention. Methods. A random sample of 37 police cadets received complementary training in psychological and technical techniques to reduce anxiety and enhance performance when facing critical incidents. A longitudinal comparison between participating officers and a control group of cadets receiving standard police training was done using a two-way repeated analysis of variance (ANOVA) and logistic regression, controlling for levels of violence exposure.

Results. The intervention group improved their general health and problem-based coping as compared to the control group. They also demonstrated lower levels of stomach problems, sleep difficulties, and exhaustion. Training was associated with an OR of 4.1 (95% CI: 1.3 13.7; p < .05) for improved GHQ (General Health Questionnaire) scores as compared to no changes or worsening score.

Conclusions. The present study represents first prospective controlled study of primary prevention of trauma related disorders in a high risk profession. The intervention group's greater resiliency is congruent with research indicating that a sense of control and readiness tends to lessen the impact of potentially traumatic experiences. Implications for future research are explored.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the risk factors police officers experience due to their frequent exposure to potentially traumatic events. Evaluate the lacking elements within contemporary methods of addressing exposure to traumatic events. Discuss the benefits of primary prevention approaches and their implication for future research.

Keywords: Primary Prevention, Training

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program at Wayne State University. The present research efforts described in my submission are supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Among my scientific interests is the assessment and prevention of posttraumatic stress disorder among first responders.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.