Models of first responder coping: Police officers as a unique population

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Stress and Health


The term “first responders” refers to a range of professional occupations, including police officers, fire fighters, search and rescue personnel, ambulance personnel, and military personnel. Research by the present authors has developed empirical models of first responder coping, identifying 2 coping pathways with differential outcomes: approach and avoidance coping. The present investigation considers police officers as a unique group and measures the extent to which police officers differ from other first responders in coping behaviours following trauma, based upon a nationally representative survey of 917 Swedish police officers. Although the model of coping behaviours following trauma and the effects on well-being displayed several similarities between police officers and other first responders, there was compelling evidence to suggest that there are professionally bound aspects of psychological coping, resilience, and well-being that merit further exploration. Among police officers, for example, avoidant coping was related to worse well-being, and police officers reported greater consequence to well-being related to substance use than other first responders. The unique aspects of police officer coping in comparison with other first responder groups are explored.

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