Occupational stress and burnout between male and female police officers: Are there any gender differences?


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore whether male and female police officers report different levels of occupational stress and burnout. Also, the research seeks to examine whether various factors that are purported to influence occupational stress and burnout have differential effects on male and female officers.

Design/methodology/approach: Using a sample of police officers working in a large metropolitan department in the Northeast, the paper begins by using t-tests to make gender comparisons between the average levels of occupational stress and burnout between male and female officers. Next, separate multivariate analyses were run for male and female officers to determine how a set of independent variables measuring the work-environment, coping mechanisms, and other demographic characteristics affected the measures of occupational stress and burnout.

Findings: The findings indicate that male and female officers did not report significantly different levels of occupational stress and burnout. Results of the separate multivariate analyses reveal that, although there are similar predictors of stress and burnout for male and female officers, differences did exist in the models, lending support to the assertion that the female officers may experience unique stressors in the police organization. The multivariate results also indicate that African-American female officers report significantly higher levels of burnout than other officers.

Research limitations/implications: The current research adds to the knowledge about how levels and predictors of work-related stress and burnout compare between male and female police officers. The current study is limited by its focus on only one police department located in the Northeast. This may limit the generalizability of the results.

Originality/value: The results of the study have implications for programs and policies that seek to prevent stress and burnout among police officers. The results of the current study indicate that a one-program-fits-all approach may not be the best way for departments to help officers to deal with stress and burnout, since male and female officers may not experience or deal with these issues in a similar fashion.


Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Gender, Police, Stress

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