Investigation into the effects of stress, anxiety and depression on serving officers

Research Institution / Organisation

Northumbria University

Principal Researcher

Paul Gullon-Scott

Level of Research


Project Start Date

August 2019

Research Context

This research will look at the effects of anxiety, depression and stress in serving UK Police Officers.  Ethics for this study have been granted by Northumbria University.

The study will consider the following:

  • H1: Hypothesis 1: As length of service increases, officers will develop their own coping strategies thus lowering the prevalence of mental health problems (i.e. lower stress, anxiety and depression).
  • H2 1: Hypothesis 2: There will be sex differences in the level of reported stress, anxiety and depression. Women will report more symptoms than men, which would be consistent with previous research (Habersaat et al., 2015a).
  • H3 Hypothesis 3: Uniformed officers are more likely to be exposed to traumatic events on a daily basis so it is therefore anticipated they will report greater feeling of stress, anxiety and depression than those who are employed in less confrontational roles, such as administration roles where those members of staff do not come into contact with the general public.
  • H4 Hypothesis 4: Officers perceived social standing among their peers will differ across departments. It is anticipated that uniformed officers will perceive themselves in a lower social status and score higher on the stress scale than plain clothed officers.
  • H5 Hypothesis 5: Those who report higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression will report lower satisfaction with life. Additionally, stress, anxiety and depression will predict satisfaction with life.
  • H6 Hypothesis 6: Those who report higher levels of conscientious and lower levels of neuroticism will report lower levels of stress. Additionally, conscientiousness and neuroticism will predict levels of stress.

The aim of the study is to explore whether length of service acts as a mediating factor, that is to say an employee with more years of service will develop better coping strategies than those of an employee who has fewer years of service, but may also identify at risk groups who can then be directed to resources available to them thus preventing employees suffering undue mental health issues and assist Police Authorities in lowering the amount of time employees take off work in order to recover from mental health issues .

Research Methodology

A quantitative online survey hosted by Qualtrics will be utilised. The data collection method will entail emailing a link to the online survey to a number of Federation Offices, as well as recruitment via police social media sites, the researcher will not have access to email addresses and participation is completely voluntary and anonymous.

The data will be analysed using correlation for hypotheses 1,5 & 6, T-tests for hypothesis 2 and 4, ANOVA for hypotheses 3 as well as Multiple Regression for hypotheses 5 and 6.

The sample size required for this study to be statistically significant is 100.

Interim reports and publications

‚ÄčNot available

Date due for completion

March 2020
Return to Research Map