n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Stress and traumatic symptoms among police officers

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This study assessed the extent to which exposure to traumatic events affected the traumatic stress response of male and female police officers. A convenience sample of male and female police officers (n = 66: n Male=46, n Female=20) was surveyed at an Eastern Cape police station. The following instruments were used: 1) Biographical questionnaire 2) PTSS-10 scales 3) and the stress incident scale. Findings of this study indicate that the frequency of exposure to stressful incidents especially for more serious events is significant. The four most frequent stressful incidents experienced by all participants were: 1) finding a corpse after murder (86.4%); 2) Responding to a scene involving accidental injury of a child (84.8%); 3) finding a corpse (died of natural causes) (84.8%); and 4) duty related violence (non-shooting) (84.8%). Female participants' results indicated a positive relationship between frequency of stressful incidents and total threat, anxiety, helplessness and PTSS-scale score, whereas male participants' results indicate no such significant relationship. Findings on male participants, however, indicate a positive relationship between years of service in police, age of police officers and PTSS-scale score, while female participants' results indicated no such relationship.

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