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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 233-237

A study on operational stressors among traffic police officers in Bengaluru


1 Department of General Medicine, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission24-Aug-2021
Date of Decision19-Sep-2021
Date of Acceptance22-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication10-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Haleemath Thabsheera
#780, 34th A Cross, 9th Main Road, 4th Block Jayanagar, Bengaluru - 560 011, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ajim.ajim_92_21

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  Abstract 


Background: Occupational stress among police officers is extensive but neglected issue. It has number of negative consequences individually as well as on the department as a whole. Occupational stress is associated with physical and mental health-related issues, and are not addressed in Indian police officers with adequate importance. Objectives: The objective of this study was to identify the occupation-related stressors faced by traffic police officers in Bengaluru. Materials and Methods: Cross-sectional survey was conducted among police personnel in Bengaluru urban police district, Karnataka, India. Data were collected using a pretested structured questionnaire (operational police stress questionnaire). The data obtained was coded and entered into Microsoft Excel sheet. Descriptive and inferential analysis was carried out. Results: Six operational stressors were found to have a median value of 4 and above, which were negative comments from public, managing your social life outside of work, limitations to your social life, not enough time to spend with friends and family, feeling like you are always on the job and overtime demands. Among operational stressors, 76% (38) of the respondents marked a score of 4–7 for the stressor “Negative comments from public,” which marked higher comparatively. Conclusion: The results point to a higher level of stress among traffic policemen, which needs attention from higher authorities. Stress management training needs to be given at regular intervals to improve their work efficacy and coping skills.

Keywords: Mental health, operational stress, police personnel, stress, traffic police officers


How to cite this article:
Mohiddina FK, Hafeez M, Abbas EM, Raja SB, Aravinda Prabhu H R, Thabsheera H. A study on operational stressors among traffic police officers in Bengaluru. APIK J Int Med 2022;10:233-7

How to cite this URL:
Mohiddina FK, Hafeez M, Abbas EM, Raja SB, Aravinda Prabhu H R, Thabsheera H. A study on operational stressors among traffic police officers in Bengaluru. APIK J Int Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 4];10:233-7. Available from: https://www.ajim.in/text.asp?2022/10/4/233/347195




  Introduction Top


Occupational stress is defined by the European Commission as “set of emotional, cognitive, physiological, and behavioral reactions to harmful aspects of the content, organization, or context of the work. It is a condition that is characterized by high levels of excitation, distress, and the feeling of not being able to do anything.”[1] Health workers are negatively affected by psychosocial risk factors, producing stress.[2]

Highly stressful occupations such as those of frontline workers like traffic police officers come with multiple challenges such as uncertain safety, being at constant guard for security, lack of understanding, social acceptance, unintentional fear affecting socialization, and inadequate departmental support. These challenges compounded by the lack of efforts of their employers' results in stress in the officers which goes unmeasured.[3] This unmeasured stress relates to increasing suicides committed by police officers, noticed by surveys done in France, Spain, and Portugal. Increased use of pharmaceutical drugs such as anti-anxiolytics, antidepressants, and tranquilizers among police officers are not monitored.[4]

There are no previous studies dealing with operational stress among traffic police officers in Karnataka, using job-specific questionnaire. Therefore, the present study measures stress among traffic police officers in a subdivision in Bengaluru using an operational police-specific questionnaire.


  Materials and Methods Top


A cross-sectional study was conducted in Bengaluru, Karnataka on February 5, 2020, taking traffic police personnel as our target population for this study. Clearance was obtained from the Institutional Ethical Committee. The date, venue, and time of the study were informed well in advance. They were given a brief orientation class on physical and mental health-related issues. The informed and written consent were obtained from each of the study participants. Those who consented to participate in the study were given questionnaires. The stressors were measured using operational police stress questionnaire [Annexure 1].[5]



The Operational Police Stress Questionnaire (PSQ-Op) is a short, psychometrically sound measure of the operational stressors associated with policing. Fifty-five police officers were the target group taken by McCreary and Thompson for a focus group session. The observations by these sessions were that stressors in policing can be further divided into organizational and operational factors. The stressors induced by policing was assessed using the PSQ-Op. The PSQ-Op was found to be reliable and demonstrated construct validity (correlations between perceived stress and frequency), discriminant validity (compared with general life stressors), and concurrent validity (compared with job satisfaction measures). The PSQ-Op uses a seven point-Likert Scale for assessing the degree of stress (1 = no stress at all, 2 = filler, 3 = filler, 4 = moderate stress, 5 = filler, 6 = filler, and 7 = a lot of stress).[5]

In this study, all the participants were asked to rate how stressful each item has been for him or her recently, on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “not at all stressful,” “moderately stressful,” and “very stressful.” A sample size of 50 traffic police officers of age group 20–50 years were obtained into this study and informed consent was attained from each of them.

A descriptive and inferential statistical analysis was carried out in the study. Results on the continuous measurements are presented on mean standard deviation (minimum-maximum) and results on categorical measurements are presented in Number (%). Significance is assessed at 5% level of significance. The results are described visually, in the form of graphs and pie charts, and also descriptively.


  Results Top


Among the 50 participants included in the study, whereas none belonged to age <19 years, 27 (54%) belonged to the age group of 40–49 years, 16 (16%) fall under 30–39 years, and only 7 (14%) police officers come under the age group of 20–29 years [Table 1] and [Figure 1].
Table 1: Distribution of participants by age group

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Figure 1: Age distribution among participants

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The responses for the operational stress questionnaire were on a Likert scale of 1–7; with 1 being “no stress at all” to 4 being “moderate stress” and 7 being “a lot of stress.” The causes of operational stress and their frequency among respondents are given in [Table 2] and [Table 3].
Table 2: Operational stressors

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Table 3: Respondents who reported stress (moderate and above) (score: 4-7)

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Six operational stressors were found to have a median value of 4 and above, which were negative comments from public, managing your social life outside of work, limitations to your social life, not enough time to spend with friends and family, feeling like you are always on the job and overtime demands [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Respondents who reported stress moderate and above (score 4-7)

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Among operational stressors, 76% (38) of the respondents marked a score of 4–7 for the stressor “Negative comments from public.” For the stressor “Managing your social life outside of work,” 60% (30) respondents gave a score of 4–7 [Table 2] and [Table 3].


  Discussion Top


In a study conducted by Abraham et al. in Thrissur, Kerala, the main operational stressor was “Fatigue.” Other top stressor was “Friends/family feel the effects of the stigma associated with your job.” It was 83.4% (score 4-7) for fatigue, compared to our study which was only 22% for fatigue.[1]

In another study by Ragesh et al. conducted in Calicut, Kerala, “Overtime demands” and “Not enough time to spend with friends and family” were the top-most stressors. Overtime demands had 72% of the respondents mark a score of 4-7, whereas our study had only 52% of respondents marked with score of 4-7.[2]

A similar study conducted by Kores et al. in the United States, identified administration, job overload, court-related matters, role conflict, role ambiguity, and unusual work hours as the stress factors in police personnel.[6]

Six stressors were found to have a median value of 4 and above. “Negative comments from the public” was the frequently quoted operational stressor. The stressors that followed, in order of occurrence were: Managing your social life outside of work; limitations to your social life; not enough time to spend with friends and family; feeling like you are always on the job; and overtime demands.

A general inference that can be drawn from the results of the study is that the interpersonal relationships of the traffic police officers are excessively affected. Negative comments from the public being the highest shows us why the rest of the stressors are also as high. Being treated badly by the public affects the normal well-being of the police officers. This in turn affects their social and family life. A feud between the public which could require the attention of the police officer can cause extension of the work hours too, thereby giving way to the other stressors of overtime demands and ones feeling that they are always at their job.

Another inference that can be drawn by the results is the need for the government to employ more traffic police officers. Stressors such as overtime demands and feeling that they are always at their job can be reduced by increasing the workforce in the department and by also introducing the concepts of maximum work hours per day and at least one 24 h of complete no duty per week. The department needs to set a maximum limit for the number of hours a traffic police officer is allowed to work for in a day, thereby reducing their mental stress and giving them enough time to rejuvenate before they return for their duty the next day.

Furthermore, from the stressors highlighted in the study, one can understand that the police officers have not been trained in human psychology. Since these officers come in contact with innumerable citizens with various types of psychologies of life on a day-to-day basis, they should be trained to handle them to reduce the stressor that affects them the most, negative comments from the public. Proper training can help them deal with such comments and also improve their mental health.

Furthermore, active efforts need to be made by every individual to reduce the stereotypes around police officers. Stereotypes like an officer are always on duty, hinder with an individual's social life too. Individuals surrounding the officer always tend to maintain their guard thinking that they could be inviting trouble any time.

In totality, the stressors highlighted in the study are easily preventable but require a great deal of involvement from the department. Regular check on the mental health of the officers and the stressors affecting it should be done. Stressors change and thus, approach to them should also be constantly changing.

Active effort should be made by the government to hire officers, establish rules about work time, and spread awareness to the general public about how their efforts could help better the life of traffic police officers.

The sample size was small and taken from one subdivision only and thus, the results cannot be accurately applied for the entire police force. Hence, more such studies should be conducted on a larger scale, which can be accurately applied for a larger population.


  Conclusion Top


Police employees undergo significant occupational stress. This will lead to higher incidence of physical and mental stress among them, which needs attention from higher authorities. There should be an institutional commitment to provide training for stress management, it should be given at regular intervals to improve coping skills, handle Internet hate, healthy working environment, and competitiveness. Modifications should be done such as fixed working hours and more positivity. Considering criticism as a part of the worldly affair can help largely when negativity can be hard to digest. Stress reduction programs are also recommended.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Abraham J, George TJ, Joshy VM, Mundodan JM. A study on occupational stressors among civil police officers of a subdivision of Thrissur district. Int J Med Sci Public Health 2019;8:1005-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Ragesh G, Tharayil HM, Meharoof Raj TP, Philip M, Hamza A. Occupational stress among police personnel in India. Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci 2017;8:148-52.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Purba A, Demou E. The relationship between organizational stressors and mental wellbeing within police officers: A systematic review. BMC Public Health 2019;19:1286.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
OECD. Health at Glance 2019, OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing; 2019.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
McCreary DR, Thompson MM. Development of two reliable and valid measures of stressors in policing: The operational and organizational police stress questionnaires. Int J Stress Manage 2006;13:494-518.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Kroes WH, Margolis BL, Hurrell JJ. Job stress in policemen. J Police Sci Adm 1974;2:145-55.  Back to cited text no. 6
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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