ARE YOU ALL RIGHT (AYA)? Association of exposure to traumatic events among Danish police officers with mental health, work environment and sickness absenteeism
Police officers are frequently exposed to potential traumatic events at work, which has been associated with increased risk of developing mental health problems, in particular Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and absenteeism. The AYA-project is a prospective cohort study investigating the cumulative effect of traumatic events at work on mental health problems and absenteeism among police officers.
Police officers are frequently exposed to potential traumatic events as part of their work. Police-specific events may include violence, armed conflicts, as well as witnessing severe incidents such as child sexual abuse, mutilated dead bodies or seriously injured victims e.g. of traffic accidents.
One of the primary mental disorders connected with traumatic experiences is Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present prospective cohort study situated in a Danish context aims to increase our understanding of how and when police officers develop mental health problems, in particular PTSD, following exposure to traumatic events.
The study also aims to identify preventive factors and thereby enhance sickness prevention at the workplace. Access to sickness absence data allows us to analyze and compare mental health status and level of presenteeism, with the actual sickness rate at both individual and department level.
Description of the cohort
The study includes all officers in the permanent staff in the Danish Police, both men and women. Approximately 11.000 employees are invited to participate.
Data and biological material
Data is collected at baseline and at 1-, 2- and 3-years follow-up using electronic questionnaire surveys sent out to participants' work mail.
The baseline and follow-up surveys measure sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, mental and somatic health, trauma relevant factors at work and outside of work, factors of the psychosocial work environment, instrumental and social support, as well as factors of individual coping and resiliency.
In addition, short questionnaire data is collected every third month covering exposure to police relevant potential traumatic events, symptoms of PTSD, level of general stress, presenteeism, and participation in formal support initiatives. Survey data are analyzed and paired with individual data on sickness absence registered at each department within the Danish National Police.
Collaborating researchers and departments
Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark
The Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet)
The National Research Center for Working Environment