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Kristen Beyer


Law enforcement officers are exposed to traumatic events through their daily work responsibilities. Traumatic events have increased within recent decades and can have long-term and critical outcomes on officers such as health concerns, long-term psychological issues, social impairment, and work performance. Thus, this quantitative study was conducted to explore negative appraisals of cumulative traumatic events and their relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in law enforcement officers. Based on the theoretical framework for the study, Ehlers and Clark's cognitive model, negative appraisals involve how an individual interprets a situation, negative appraisals of traumatic events lead to maladaptive behavior and the inability to cope causes persistent PTSD symptoms. Investigative and patrol law enforcement officers from central Florida completed surveys based on cumulative trauma, negative appraisals, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Results of multiple regression analysis and Pearson's correlation coefficient indicated that cumulative trauma did not predict negative appraisals; however, cumulative trauma and negative appraisals significantly predicted PTSD symptoms. This study can enhance positive social change by encouraging future studies on cognitive processing and the development of specialized prevention and intervention protocols to assist in diminishing long-term effects of traumatic events.

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