U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Evaluation of a Police Debriefing Programme: Outcomes for Police Officers Five Years After a Police Shooting

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 2008 Pages: 361-373
Nicola Addis; Christine Stephens
Date Published
13 pages
This evaluation of the effectiveness of a debriefing program intended to reduce traumatic stress among police in New Zealand focused on the program’s impact on officers involved in an on-duty shooting 5 years after the event.
The findings show that the short-term debriefing of the New Zealand Police Trauma Policy following a critical incident experienced by officers had no long-term preventative effect on posttraumatic stress symptoms or adverse physical health symptoms resulting from stress. In fact, the experience of debriefing was associated with significantly higher symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), although this was explained by variance due to perceived stress and other trauma. These results are similar to previous findings of greater psychiatric morbidity for police or emergency workers and systematic reviews of debriefing studies that reported increased risk for PTSD in debriefed individuals. Twelve respondents (21 percent of the sample) had received a trauma policy debriefing. Of these, nine (16 percent) had attended a group debriefing, seven (12 percent) had sessions with a psychologists individually, and five (9 percent) had participated in both types of intervention. Seventy-nine percent of the officers interviewed (n=45) did not receive a trauma policy debriefing. Participants were asked whether or not they had attended a debriefing session after the incident, and if so, to indicate how beneficial they perceived it to be, using a 5-point scale. The revised version of the Impact of Event Scale was used to measure PTSD symptoms, and the General Health Questionnaire was used to measure general psychological well-being. Physical health symptoms were assessed with the Pennebaker Inventory of Limbic Languidness. Control variables pertained to perceptions of social support and exposure to other traumatic experiences. 4 tables and 65 references