142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Evaluating Stress Resilience: A Worksite Intervention to Reduce Stress and CVD Risk Factors in Police

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 9:18 AM - 9:34 AM

Sandra L. Ramey, PhD, RN , College of Nursing and College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Yelena Perkhounkova, PhD , University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Maria Hein, MSW
Amanda Arens, MS , Kinestheisiology, Iowa State Univeristy, Ames, IA
Background: As police age, their rates of CVD become up to 70% higher than their civilian peers. Stress is a modifiable risk factor that contributes to chronic disease. The focus of this work is not on modifying the officers’ exposure to stressors but on modifying how they respond to stressful situations. Method: A wait-list controlled experimental design was employed. Measurements were taken at baseline, 3 and 6 months and included psychological and physiological variables. Our stress-resilience intervention educates officers on techniques to manage emotional and physical responses to stress and provides practice sessions with hand-held, non-invasive heart-rhythm monitors. After completing a stress-resilience intervention, officers will likely show lower levels of psychological stress, improved autonomic responses to stress and less CVD risk factors associated with stress.  Results: Preliminary data support differences in control and intervention groups for LDL, BMI and summary scores on several of the psychological measures. Review of the em wave practice session’s data shows that 70 percent of officers had a 100 to 300% improvement in coherence from baseline. Improvement in sleep has been reported. Conclusions: Measuring how the heart adapts to stress may be a good way to measure progress in dealing with stress. This study addresses an important knowledge gap by assessing the extent to which reducing the physiological response to stress may reduce CVD risk in police. If police develop heart disease less often this helps them and society by reducing disability retirements benefits offered by many states to officers with CVD.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate how officers respond to organizational and critical incident stress, which can reduce their risk factors for heart disease and increase situational awareness.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research on the topic of CVD and stress in police for 15 years and am the PI on the current grant funding from the Department of Justice for this study.
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.