SA Journal of Industrial Psychology
On-line version ISSN 0258-5200
ORIENTATION: Stress is a social reality which does not exist in isolation, but in many social situations, especially work-related environments. Police officers in particular suffer from highly negative stress related outcomes. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to determine how Moos's hypothesised stress and coping model (1994) fitted a sample of police officers. MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: The study was an attempt to understand police officers' unique needs and how the frequency and/or intensity of perceived stress could be reduced so that they would be able to cope more effectively with stress. RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: A non-experimental survey design, following the quantitative tradition, was used in pursuit of the research objectives. A random sample of 505 participants was extracted from a population of serving male and female police officers reflecting the typical South African ethnic groups. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to establish the adequacy of between the hypothesised Moos model and the sample. MAIN FINDINGS: The hypothesised theoretical framework was disproved. A respecified model and inter-correlations confirm that some officers experience burnout, while, paradoxically, others continue to be unaffected because of the buffering effect of social support, personality factors and other resilience factors not revealed in this study. PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: The study calls on police management for awareness of the negative health consequences of prolonged stressors. Simultaneously, employee assistance programmes could be directed to problem-solving strategies, perceived self-efficacy and learned resourcefulness to improve control over prolonged negative stress consequences among members. CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: This research provides a theoretical framework to understand, describe and assess individual well-being in the police work context.
Keywords : Police stress; coping strategies; vigour; burnout; resources.