Helms School of Government
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)
Law Enforcement, Stress, Stress Relief, Chaplaincy, Employee Assistance, Peer Support, Wellness, Coping, Demographics, Stigma
Whittington, Michael Wayne, "Police Demographics and Stress Relief Program Utilization" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4124.
Police officers face challenges from operational and organizational stressors. Officers often have access to stress relief programs offered by their employers such as Peer Support Programs, Employee Assistance Programs, or Chaplaincy Programs. The implementation of these stress relief programs is based on the perception of need and anecdotal evidence. Police stress and stress relief studies offer mixed results as to the way an officer chooses one program or another. One understudied area to determine stress relief program utilization is demographics. Variables such as experience, education, marital status, race, sexuality, and gender may factor into the decision as to which stress relief program will be utilized or not. This exploratory study compared the utilization rates from agency-offered stress relief programs with demographic characteristics in a large metropolitan agency in California. Utilizing a non-experimental, quantitative, predictive research design, the study addressed one overarching research question and three sub-questions. The sample was drawn from officers within a cooperating law enforcement agency. Data was obtained through the administration of paper surveys to law enforcement officers. Survey responses were analyzed to examine whether law enforcement officers' demographic characteristics impacted stress relief programs' utilization factors including stress relief program stigmatization. The results of this study have the potential to influence the implementation, management, and training of programs for other law enforcement jurisdictions.