Relationship between length of exposure to trauma and mental illness in the police

Santiago Bossert, TC and Guerra Júnior, AA and Ruas, CM and de Araújo, VE and de Assis Acúrcio, F and Godman, B and Bennie, M (2019) Relationship between length of exposure to trauma and mental illness in the police. Journal of Neurology and Psychology, 7 (1).

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Introduction: The activities of the police are considered high risk, because they are exposed to high levels of physical and emotional stress. These work activities can contribute to the emergence of psychiatric disorders that affect their readiness in responding to threats and safety of their actions. Our aim was to conduct a systematic literature review to identify studies that evaluated the time that police officers may be deployed without developing a mental illness. Materials and Methods: Articles published until May 2016 in The MEDLINE (PubMed), Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, and Lilacs databases were searched. In addition, a manual search in the gray literature (theses and dissertations) was also conducted. Several combinations of indexed terms were used in the search of electronic databases, including terms referring to trauma exposure, intervention, and population. There were no restrictions on date and language of the publications. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for eligibility and quality. Disagreements were resolved after consultations with a third reviewer. Results: Of 905 selected studies, 13 studies evaluated deployment duration and the incidence of mental illness. Studies were excluded because they addressed the prevalence of mental illness but did not relate it to deployment duration or because the studied sample was not the target population of the present study. Studies have shown that a longer deployment time is associated with increased incidence of mental illness. Our analysis of the 13 identified studies indicated the existence of an association between exposure to deployment and mental illness onset. Conclusion: These findings will be useful to inform and guide future studies conducted in Brazil and worldwide.