University at Buffalo Researcher Receives $2.5 Million NIOSH Grant to Study Impact of Stress on Police Health

Published August 28, 2015

“This study will help us to understand the impact of stress associated with police work and the effects of stress on health. These findings will be relevant to other occupational groups that also experience stress as part of their daily routine”
Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD, Dean, School of Public Health and Health Professions

Dr. John Violanti, research professor of epidemiology and environmental health in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, is the lead investigator on a four-year, $2.5 million study, which will continue previous work Dr. Violanti, himself a former law enforcement officer, has conducted on the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress Study (BCOPS).

“This is another powerful example of the tremendous impact our faculty and intellectual resources have on the broader communities we serve,” said University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi. “Professor Violanti’s research has important implications for shaping law enforcement practice and policy at a national level while having the potential to improve working conditions and quality of life in the police community and beyond. This is research that can make a real difference for police officers and a large segment of the working population.”

Stress, trauma and PTSD are common in police work, says Dr. Violanti.

“It’s not only the danger of the streets but also the psychological danger that police work brings,” he said. “Such exposures not only affect officers psychologically, but bring with them physical outcomes such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

The research will assess police stress over a period of 12 years by examining measures of stress and the association of these measures with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Its findings will be used to provide translational information to improve prevention practices.

The impact of the study will stretch beyond the law enforcement community, said Dr. Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions. The results of the study also will help to identify the adverse health consequences associated with stress in a large portion of the working population.

“This study will help us to understand the impact of stress associated with police work and the effects of stress on health. These findings will be relevant to other occupational groups that also experience stress as part of their daily routine,” Dr. Wactawski-Wende said. “This is an important public health issue and we are proud to have this important work being led here at the University at Buffalo by Dr. Violanti and his team.”