Secondary traumatic stress among police officers – the relationship with personality and ruminations
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Institute of Psychology, University of Łódź, Łódź, Poland
Institute of Social Sciences, Police Academy, Szczytno, Poland
Submission date: 2021-09-21
Acceptance date: 2021-12-06
Online publication date: 2022-01-24
Like many professionals who work with victims of trauma, police officers may experience negative consequences expressed in the form of secondary traumatic stress (STS) symptoms. The study aim was to establish the relationship between personality, ruminations (intrusive and deliberate) and secondary traumatic stress symptoms, including the mediating role of ruminations, in a group of police officers exposed to secondary trauma.

Material and methods:
A group of 235 police officers working, at least partly, with trauma victims were surveyed. The age of the participants ranged from 30 to 60 years (M = 40.79, SD = 3.96). Three questionnaires were used: the Secondary Traumatic Stress Inventory, the NEO Five-Factor Inventory and the Event-Related Rumination Inventory.

The results demonstrate a rather low level of STS among police officers. Ruminations, particularly intrusive ones, were more strongly connected with symptoms of STS than personality traits. Neuroticism correlated more strongly with STS than other personality traits, and extraversion was not connected with any negative effects of secondary trauma exposure. The conducted analysis confirmed that ruminations act as mediators in the relationship between neuroticism and STS.

Although the police officers working with trauma victims revealed low levels of STS symptoms, it is nevertheless advisable to ameliorate, if not prevent, them. Interventions should aim to expand the competencies in coping with trauma, including reducing the tendency to ruminate about the traumatic events experienced by clients.

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