Positive personality traits may protect police at high risk for PTSD

January 6, 2015

Science Daily/University at Buffalo

A new study looked at police officers in the New Orleans area during and after Hurricane Katrina. The results suggested that they were shielded from PTSD by the protective qualities not only in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but years later as well.

 

Personal traits such as resilience, satisfaction with life and a grateful disposition may help shield police officers from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

 

This is the case even though repeated exposure to traumatic events has been found to provoke PTSD and police officers are exposed repeatedly to traumatic events. These are the conclusions of a new study that looked at police officers in the New Orleans area during and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The results suggested that they were shielded from PTSD by the protective qualities not only in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but years later as well.

 

"We found that symptoms of PTSD significantly decreased among subjects as resilience, satisfaction with life and gratitude increased," says researcher John Violanti, PhD, professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo and an internationally known expert on police stress. "This also was true among officers -- excluded from the study -- who did not work during the hurricane.

 

"This study extends our understanding of how positive factors are associated with reduced PTSD symptoms, and can inform and guide treatment modalities for PTSD," Violanti says.

 

"In this sample, unlike in studies of civilian populations, an experience of posttraumatic personal growth did not appear to mitigate PTSD symptoms in police officers, though the other three protective characteristics we studied did," Violanti says.

 

He elaborates on the study's results: "As in previous research, resilience scores decreased as the level of alcohol intake increased in the officers. "Gratitude scores were highest among African American officers, followed closely by Caucasians, with the lowest scores reported by Hispanic, Native American and Japanese officers. Officers with high and very high life satisfaction reported fewer PTSD symptoms, although given the cross-sectional nature of the study, it is difficult to say whether experiencing PTSD symptoms results in dissatisfaction with life or vice versa.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150106104136.htm

officers in the New Orleans area during and after Hurricane Katrina. The results suggested that they were shielded from PTSD by the protective qualities not only in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but years later as well.

 

Personal traits such as resilience, satisfaction with life and a grateful disposition may help shield police officers from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

 

This is the case even though repeated exposure to traumatic events has been found to provoke PTSD and police officers are exposed repeatedly to traumatic events. These are the conclusions of a new study that looked at police officers in the New Orleans area during and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The results suggested that they were shielded from PTSD by the protective qualities not only in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but years later as well.

 

"We found that symptoms of PTSD significantly decreased among subjects as resilience, satisfaction with life and gratitude increased," says researcher John Violanti, PhD, professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo and an internationally known expert on police stress. "This also was true among officers -- excluded from the study -- who did not work during the hurricane.

 

"This study extends our understanding of how positive factors are associated with reduced PTSD symptoms, and can inform and guide treatment modalities for PTSD," Violanti says.

 

"In this sample, unlike in studies of civilian populations, an experience of posttraumatic personal growth did not appear to mitigate PTSD symptoms in police officers, though the other three protective characteristics we studied did," Violanti says.

 

He elaborates on the study's results: "As in previous research, resilience scores decreased as the level of alcohol intake increased in the officers. "Gratitude scores were highest among African American officers, followed closely by Caucasians, with the lowest scores reported by Hispanic, Native American and Japanese officers. Officers with high and very high life satisfaction reported fewer PTSD symptoms, although given the cross-sectional nature of the study, it is difficult to say whether experiencing PTSD symptoms results in dissatisfaction with life or vice versa.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150106104136.htm

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