Examining Police Officer Work Stress Using the Job Demands–Resources Model

Published date01 November 2017
Date01 November 2017
Subject MatterArticles
/tmp/tmp-175wBpzZ0nsU05/input 724248CCJXXX10.1177/1043986217724248Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeFrank et al.
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2017, Vol. 33(4) 348 –367
Examining Police Officer
© The Author(s) 2017
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Work Stress Using the Job
DOI: 10.1177/1043986217724248
Demands–Resources Model
James Frank1, Eric G. Lambert2, and Hanif Qureshi1
Policing has long been recognized as a stressful, emotionally trying, and sometimes
dangerous occupation. Job stress is related to several harmful outcomes for officers,
and ultimately police organizations. The present study empirically examined the
applicability of the job demands–resources model to explain levels of work stress
experienced by a sample of police officers in India. Survey data collected from 827
officers in the Indian state of Haryana were examined to determine the impact of five
job demands and four job resources on work stress. Our findings suggest that role
ambiguity, role conflict, and role overload are associated with higher levels of officer
stress, whereas organizational support, formalization, and employee input in decision
making are all associated with lower levels of stress. The implications of our findings
for policing and the job demands–resources model are also discussed.
police, law enforcement, work stress, job stress, job demands–resources model, India
Policing has long been recognized as a stressful occupation and, in fact, some scholars
have argued that it is one of the most stressful professions. Policing can be both physi-
cally and emotionally trying and sometimes dangerous (Cullen, Link, Travis, &
Lemming, 1983; Martinussen, Richardsen, & Burke, 2007; Mostert & Rothmann,
2006). This can wear on a person over time, increasing the chances of work stress,
1University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA
2The University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, USA
Corresponding Author:
James Frank, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, 665F Dyer Hall, Cincinnati, OH 45221,
Email: james.frank@uc.edu

Frank et al.
which studies have shown contributes to or causes several harmful outcomes for offi-
cers, such as health problems, aggression, depression, job burnout, absenteeism, turn-
over, substance abuse, lower job satisfaction, lower work performance, and even
premature death (Gershon, Barocas, Canton, Li, & Vlahov, 2009; Howard, Donofrio,
& Boles, 2004; Martinussen et al., 2007; Morash, Kwak, & Haarr, 2006; Ranta & Sud,
2008; Tyagi & Dhar, 2014; Violanti et al., 2015). As officers are both the most impor-
tant and most expensive resource for many police agencies (Police Executive Research
Forum, 2002), it is incumbent on agencies to understand the factors that contribute to
stress and engage in efforts to combat the negative effects of work stress.
Officer stress is likely a global problem, not unique to a single nation; however, the
effects of specific job demands and resources may be universal or may vary by culture.
Research to date has mainly focused on officers in Western nations, particularly the
United States (Lambert et al., 2015; Martinussen et al., 2007). To test this model’s
value for explaining the antecedents of police officer stress across a range of contexts
and cultures, research is necessary among police across an array of countries, includ-
ing Non-Western nations. The Republic of India (henceforth, India) is the world’s
most populous democracy and a dynamic emerging nation taking a more prominent
role on the world stage (Unnithan, 2009). Little has been published in Western journals
concerning how workplace variables are associated with work stress among Indian
police officers.
This study examines how workplace factors are associated with work stress among
Haryana police officers in India. This research empirically examines the applicability
of the job demands–resources model to explain levels of stress experienced by police
officers in India. This theory proposes that job demands result in strain and stress,
whereas job resources typically reduce the level of work stress (Schaufeli & Taris,
2014). The specific job demand variables examined were role conflict, role ambiguity,
role overload, role underload, and perceived dangerousness of the job. The specific job
resource variables examined were input into decision making, formalization, organi-
zational support, and instrumental communication. Numerous researchers have
reported that workplace factors such as those examined in this study contribute more
to officer work stress than the nature of police work (Crank & Caldero, 1991; Gershon
et al., 2009; Kop, Euwema, & Schaufeli, 1999; McCarty & Skogan, 2013; Shane,
2010). In contrast to personal factors or the nature of police work, job resources and
demands are within the control of police administrators and are capable of being
improved through management efforts (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).
Literature Review
The job demands–resources model provides the theoretical framework for why work-
place demands and resources would be associated with work stress among police offi-
cers (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Demerouti & Bakker, 2011). This model divides
workplace variables into demands and resources. This model grew from the job
demands model proposed by Karasek (1979). Karasek (1979) defined job demands as
“the psychological stressors involved in accomplishing the workload, stressors related

Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 33(4)
to unexpected tasks, and stressors of job-related personal conflict” (p. 291). In 1996,
Lee and Ashford (1996) built upon this model, arguing that workplace demands and
resources contribute to employee stress and burnout. Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner,
and Schaufeli (2001) proposed the job demands–resources model. As noted by
Schaufeli and Taris (2014), “the job demands-resources model does not restrict itself
to specific job demands or job resources. It assumes any demand and any resource
may affect employee health and well-being” (p. 44). Likewise, Demerouti and Bakker
(2011) asserted
that every occupation has its own specific risk factors associated with work-related stress.
These factors can be classified in two categories (i.e., job demands and job resources),
thus constituting an overarching model that may apply to various occupational settings,
irrespective of the particular demand and resources involved. (p. 2)
The appeal of this model is that it has application across types of organizations, irre-
spective of the nature of specific demands and resources.
Workplace demands place a strain on workers, and, over time, strain can wear on
the worker, resulting in negative outcomes (Hall, Dollard, Tuckey, Winefield, &
Thompson, 2010; Schaufeli & Taris, 2014). Demerouti et al. (2001) defined job
demands as “those physical, social, or organizational aspects of the job that require
sustained effort and are therefore associated with physiological or psychological
costs” (p. 501). Demerouti and Bakker (2011) indicated that job demands are “work
circumstances that involve excessive or undesirable constraints that interfere with or
inhibit an individual’s ability to achieve valued goals” (p. 4). Examples include role
conflict, role overload, and role ambiguity.
Workplace resources help people do their jobs, allowing them to be more success-
ful and make work more enjoyable, and make them feel respected and valued as
employees (Demerouti & Bakker, 2011; Hu, Schaufeli, & Taris, 2011). In addition, a
lack of resources becomes a job demand, resulting in greater psychological strain
(Mauno, Kinnunen, & Ruokolainen, 2006; Schaufeli & Taris, 2014). Demerouti et al.
(2001) defined job resources as “those physical, social, or organizational aspects of
the job that may do any of the following: (a) be functional in achieving work goals;
(b) reduce demands and the associated physiological and psychological costs; (c)
stimulate personal growth and development” (p. 501). Job resources not only aid
people in being effective at work, but they also can help buffer the adverse effects of
job demands (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Mauno et al., 2006). The positive psycho-
logical feelings from job resources lead to high work engagement (Bakker &
Demerouti, 2007) and allow people to focus less on the negative work situations and
issues (Bakker, Demerouti, & Euwema, 2005). Examples of job resources include
input into decision making, instrumental communication, and organizational support
(Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).
While not specifically testing the job demands–resources model, there is support in
the literature that job demands are positively associated with work stress and job
resources are negatively associated with work stress. Job demands are associated with

Frank et al.
higher level of stress, whereas job resources are associated with lower stress. Among
U.S. officers, a lack of administrative coordination/guidance, discrimination, harass-
ment, lack of influence in the agency, work on family conflict, and lack of organiza-
tional fairness were associated with higher levels of work stress, and camaraderie with
fellow officers were associated with lower levels of stress (Gershon et al., 2009; He,
Zhao, & Archbold, 2002; He, Zhao, & Ren, 2005; McCarty & Skogan, 2013; McCarty,
Zhao, & Garland, 2007; Morash et al., 2006). Among...

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