Understanding and improving police health and wellbeing: the PHeW project
police mental health
Subject Categories::B920 Occupational Health
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AbstractAim: In the UK it has been reported that over 50% of the police workforce has taken sick leave for mental or physical health issues within the past five years. Bedfordshire Police Force has the fourth highest long term sick leave in the UK due to both physical and psychological health. Method: The study employed mixed methods across four phases of work (1. needs assessment, 2. Baseline assessment, 3. Intervention implementation, 4. Evaluation) to assess the physical health (body mass index, blood pressure), psychological wellbeing (stress anxiety, depression, mood, wellbeing), health behaviours (physical activity, nutrition, substance use, sleep), support needs and factors that influence the health and wellbeing of Bedfordshire Police employees. The study moreover tested the feasibility of brief positive psychology interventions (3 Good Things [expressive writing] Technique and Positive Password Mantras) for a length of 1 month. Results: Stress levels (personal, organisational and operational) and BMI were high in Bedfordshire Police Force employees and significantly correlated with poorer health behaviours. Recruitment to the interventions was low, and attrition over the four weeks was high, suggesting the current approach was not feasible. Interview findings indicated that future initiatives need to 1) Build belief in the support available; 2) Address perceived stigma; 3) Provide timely support; 4) Reduce work-related stress; 5) Make health and wellbeing a priority; 6) Encourage camaraderie and social support, and 7) Support positive coping strategies. Conclusion: There is a clear need and desire for occupational health support within Bedfordshire Police Force to support employees’ physical health and psychological wellbeing. Future interventions should consider employee’s capability, opportunity and motivation to engage and make initiatives easy, attractive, social and timely.
CitationKukucska, D. (2020) 'Understanding and improving Police Health and Wellbeing: The PHeW Project'. MSc by Research thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc by Research Thesis.
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