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Kristen Beyer


Police officers experience continuous periods of work-related stressors throughout their

careers, affecting job performance, sleep, and family life. However, there is limited qualitative research in the area of police officer gender and stress, in law enforcement. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study, guided by resilience theory, was to examine how gender and stress influence work performance, sleep, and family life in police officers. Six male and 4 female patrol officers were individually interviewed to gather information related to (a) their experiences regarding stress, (b) signs and symptoms of stress, (c) how gender affects stress, and (d) their coping mechanisms. Results revealed themes related to family and social interaction, health, and work performance. Underlying themes for females were (a) female roles, (b) judged, (c) more work stress than males, (d) mother role at work, (e) psychological talkers, (f) stress eating, (g) weight, (h) stereotypes, (i) emotional, and (j) better listeners. Themes identified for the males were (a) that they were challenged less than females, (b) carry their workload, (c) male health, (d) anger, (e) internalization, (f) role of a male, and (g) block things out. This study could impact social change by creating awareness of and education regarding identifying work-related stress, the importance of early intervention, and the development of resources specific to gender when indicated for optimal health and wellness for police officers, law enforcement personnel, and their families.

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