The Negative Effects Of Shift Work On Police Officers And Their Families

2127 words - 9 pages

The nature of police work forces officers to respond to calls 24 hours a day 7 day a week; because of this, the majority of 24/7 department officers must work non-standard hours, including weekends, holidays, evenings and nights; this is commonly referred to as shift work. The prolonged exposure to working these non-standard hours has significant detrimental effects on the mental and physical health of the police officer. These effects are thus filtered down and may cause conflict in their relationships with their significant others and other family members, with officer divorce rates averaging between 66% and 75%, they are the second highest divorce demographic almost doubling the national average (McCoy & Aamodt, 2009). This paper explores the specific physiological effects of shift work on the worker and its secondary effects on their families.
Perrucci, MacDermid, King, Tang, Brimeyer, Ramadoss, Kiser, and Swanberg (2007) conducted a review of current literature on the shift workers physical health, mental well-being and family life. They defined shift work as employment during non-standard hours outside the typical business hours of 8 A.M. to 5 P.M, Monday through Friday, including standard or rotating shift schedules. Their research indicates a majority of the workers that operate during these alternative shifts do so because they are forced to via the nature of their job; incidentally more than half of all shift workers fall into the category of protective services, including police. Data obtained from 2,400 non-standard shift workers reported that they suffered physiological symptoms at a higher rate than their standard hour counterparts with elevated instances of digestive problems, chest pains, the onset of illness, and insufficient sleep patterns. While there are a number of reports indicating night shift workers have greater instance of gastro-intestinal issues, solid evidence linking the hours to the symptoms has yet to be established. In a separate report, data collected from 732 shift workers examining a myriad of health concerns indicates that the shift workers adaption to their shift relies on their age, tenure and the time they have been working a particular shift. Main factors that may be involved in negative impacts are the alteration of the circadian rhythms and the associated hour length of operational schedules. The study supported that when the circadian rhythms were interrupted, a higher frequency of cardiovascular symptoms were present in workers with longer non-standard hours. The study also supported that workers operating in 12 hour shifts suffered a greater acuity of chronic fatigue than those who worked only 8 hours. Separate experiments focusing on the impact of shift work pertaining to mental health have not shown strong correlation, however shift work is viewed as a general stressor to which the individual worker may react differently. A study focusing on 24 individuals who worked non-standard shifts found...

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