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Dying for the Job: Police Work Exposure and Health

NCJ Number
John M. Violanti, Ph.D.
Date Published
211 pages
This anthology of chapters by professionals in various fields of physical and mental health discusses job conditions in police work that heighten risks for various illnesses as well as ways to address these risks.
Chapter 1 discusses hazardous physical exposures faced by police officers in their daily work; e.g., officers are often exposed to chemical and biological hazards in the line of duty. Chapter 2 discusses health disparities between the police and general U.S. population. Police officers have been found to have higher levels of traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors compared to the general population. Following up on this finding, chapter 3 suggests how law enforcement agencies can promote a culture of wellness that encourages officers to counter specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Chapter 4 presents the results of a comprehensive review of studies on cancer among police officers. The majority of these studies indicate that police officers are at higher risk for various types of cancer compared to the general population. The authors argue that police work is associated with exposure to a variety of carcinogenic agents, lifestyles, or risk factors, such as shift work, poor diet, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption. Chapter 5 addresses one of these job-related risk factors, i.e., shift work. The authors argue that shift work is a recognized physical and psychological challenge to worker health and performance. Chapter 6 discusses the additional stressors and some of the health consequences distinctive to policewomen. Chapter 7 addresses the psychosocial etiology of suicide among police officers and ways to prevent it. The four remaining chapters focus on the prevalence and prevention of mental health disorders among police officers, with attention to work-related posttraumatic stress, the importance of developing techniques of resilience, and techniques for treating trauma in police officers. Chapter references and index