Saf Health Work.  2019 Mar;10(1):30-38. 10.1016/

Influence of Work Characteristics on the Association Between Police Stress and Sleep Quality

  • 1Biostatistics and Epidemiology Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV, USA.
  • 2Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA.


Police officers' stress perception, frequency of stressful events (stressors), and police work characteristics may contribute to poor sleep quality through different mechanisms.
We investigated associations of stress severity (measured by stress rating score) and frequency of stressors with sleep quality and examined the influence of police work characteristics including workload, police rank, prior military experience, and shift work on the associations. Participants were 356 police officers (256 men and 100 women) enrolled in the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress Study from 2004 to 2009. A mean stress rating score and mean frequency of stressors occurring in the past month were computed for each participant from the Spielberger Police Stress Survey data. Sleep quality was assessed using the global score derived from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index survey. Linear associations of the stress rating score and frequency of stressors with sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index global score) were tested. Age, sex, race/ethnicity, and smoking status were selected as potential confounders.
The stress rating score was positively and independently associated with poor sleep quality (β = 0.17, p = 0.002). Only workload significantly modified this association (β = 0.23, p = 0.001 for high workload group; p-interaction = 0.109). The frequency of stressors was positively and independently associated with poor sleep quality (β = 0.13, p = 0.025). Only police rank significantly modified the association (β = 0.007, p = 0.004 for detectives/other executives; p-interaction = 0.076).
Both police officers' perception of stress severity and the frequency of stressors are associated with poor sleep quality. Stress coping or sleep promotion regimens may be more beneficial among police officers reporting high workloads.


Frequency of stressors; Police officers; Sleep quality; Stress severity
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