The Role of Job Demands and Job Resources in the Development of Emotional Exhaustion, Depression, and Anxiety Among Police Officers

DOI10.1177/1098611117743957
AuthorSabine Stark,Andreas Santa Maria,Dieter Kleiber,Burkhard Gusy,Christine Wolter,Franziska Wörfel,Babette Renneberg,Max Rotter
Published date01 March 2018
Date01 March 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Article
The Role of Job
Demands and Job
Resources in the
Development of
Emotional Exhaustion,
Depression, and
Anxiety Among Police
Officers
Andreas Santa Maria
1
,
Franziska Wo
¨rfel
1
, Christine Wolter
1
,
Burkhard Gusy
1
, Max Rotter
1
,
Sabine Stark
1
, Dieter Kleiber
1
, and
Babette Renneberg
1
Abstract
The aim of this study was to examine whether job demands and job resources
predict depression and anxiety levels among police officers and whether emotional
exhaustion plays a mediating role in this relationship. In addition, we tested whether
job resources can serve as a protective factor against job-related strain. A total of
843 German police officers completed the questionnaires in an online survey. Results
showed that job demands (high workload and assaults by citizens) predicted higher
levels of depression and anxiety among police officers, mediated through emotional
exhaustion. Furthermore, job resources (social support by colleagues, shared values,
and positive leadership climate) buffered the effect of job demands on emotional
exhaustion and were negatively associated with depression and anxiety levels. The
identification of job demands and job resources that are related to psychological
1
Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universita
¨t Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Corresponding Author:
Andreas Santa Maria, Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universita
¨t Berlin,
Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
Email: a.santamaria@fu-berlin.de
Police Quarterly
2018, Vol. 21(1) 109–134
!The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/1098611117743957
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strain among police officers provides important information for interventions in
order to promote mental health in the context of police work.
Keywords
police officers, emotional exhaustion, depression, anxiety, job demands–resources
model
Previous studies have shown that workplace stress has a profound impact on
employees’ mental health (Bonde, 2008; Stansfeld & Candy, 2006). The job of
police officers is regarded as especially stressful and demanding (Liberman et al.,
2002; Violanti et al., 2006). Thus, it can be assumed that this subset of employees
is particularly prone to job-related strain and health issues. In a British study of
26 occupations, police work was identified as one of the six most stressful jobs,
indicated by lower than average scores on physical health, psychological well-
being, and job satisfaction (Johnson et al., 2005). However, results of studies on
job-related strain and mental health in the context of police work are mixed,
indicating no clear evidence that police officers suffer from elevated levels of
burnout and mental illness (Anson & Bloom, 1988; Chen et al., 2006; Kop,
Euwema, & Schaufeli, 1999; Newman & Rucker-Reed, 2004; Storch &
Panzarella, 1996). It is important to note that job-related stress and strain are
not perceived per se as negative by police officers, in fact it can initially promote
social bonding among colleagues and increase feelings of excitement and attrac-
tion to the job (Gilmartin, 1990). Nevertheless, there is evidence that organiza-
tional and operational stressors can lead to burnout and mental disorders among
police officers in the long run (Collins & Gibbs, 2003; Gaines & Jermier, 1983;
Gershon, Lin, & Li, 2002; Golembiewski & Kim, 1990), while job resources are
associated with beneficial health outcomes (e.g., Marchand & Durand, 2011).
The aim of the present study was to identify job demands and job resources that
are relevant to police work and to examine their relationship to the occurrence of
depression and anxiety symptoms among police officers. Furthermore, in order
to target potential underlying processes in the development of depression and
anxiety in an organizational context, we also investigated whether job-related
emotional exhaustion plays a mediating role in the relationship between job
demands and psychological strain and whether job resources can serve as a
protective factor in this process.
Emotional Exhaustion, Depression, and Anxiety Among
Police Officers
Emotional exhaustion is a key aspect of burnout, a syndrome that occurs
in response to high work demands and chronic work-related stress
110 Police Quarterly 21(1)

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