The role of resilience and cognitive coping in predicting post-traumatic symptoms in law enforcement employees

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University of New Brunswick


Previous studies have established a relationship between occupational stressors and the development and overall experience of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; Maguen et al. 2009; Marmar et al., 2006). The current study extended previous studies by investigating the unique contributions of psychological resilience and cognitive emotion regulation coping strategies in predicting PTSD symptom severity among law enforcement personnel. These factors were examined in a comprehensive model that included the robust effects of social support. A total of 118 law enforcement participants (42% women; Mage = 41.74 years) were recruited from two Canadian municipal police organizations. Participants completed self-report measures of resilience, work stressors, coping strategies, and PTSD symptoms via an online or paper-to-pen survey. Multiple regression analyses revealed that lower resilience, greater use of rumination and catastrophizing coping strategies, and lesser use of positive reappraisal as a coping strategy, uniquely predicted more severe PTSD symptoms above and beyond the influence of social support. In addition, higher levels of resilience moderated the relationship between work stressor volume and PTSD symptoms. These findings inform prevention strategies to better promote mental wellness in this occupational context. Keywords: post-traumatic stress disorder, resilience, coping, law enforcement personnel, mental health, social support