Canadian public safety personnel (PSP; e.g., correctional workers, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, police officers) are exposed to potentially traumatic events as a function of their work. Such exposures contribute to the risk of developing clinically significant symptoms related to mental disorders. The current study was designed to provide estimates of mental disorder symptom frequencies and severities for Canadian PSP.
An online survey was made available in English or French from September 2016 to January 2017. The survey assessed current symptoms, and participation was solicited from national PSP agencies and advocacy groups. Estimates were derived using well-validated screening measures.
There were 5813 participants (32.5% women) who were grouped into 6 categories (i.e., call center operators/dispatchers, correctional workers, firefighters, municipal/provincial police, paramedics, Royal Canadian Mounted Police). Substantial proportions of participants reported current symptoms consistent with 1 (i.e., 15.1%) or more (i.e., 26.7%) mental disorders based on the screening measures. There were significant differences across PSP categories with respect to proportions screening positive based on each measure.
The estimated proportion of PSP reporting current symptom clusters consistent with 1 or more mental disorders appears higher than previously published estimates for the general population; however, direct comparisons are impossible because of methodological differences. The available data suggest that Canadian PSP experience substantial and heterogeneous difficulties with mental health and underscore the need for a rigorous epidemiologic study and category-specific solutions.
R. Nicholas Carleton, PhD, Tracie O. Afifi, PhD, Sarah Turner, MSc, Tamara Taillieu, MSc, Sophie Duranceau, MA, Daniel M. LeBouthillier, MA, Jitender Sareen, PhD, Rose Ricciardelli, PhD, Renee S. MacPhee, PhD, Dianne Groll, PhD, Kadie Hozempa, BA, Alain Brunet, PhD, John R. Weekes, PhD, Curt T. Griffiths, PhD, Kelly J. Abrams, PhD, Nicholas A. Jones, PhD, Shadi Beshai, PhD, Heidi A. Cramm, PhD, Keith S. Dobson, PhD, Simon Hatcher, PhD, Terence M. Keane, PhD, Sherry H. Stewart, PhD, Gordon J. G. Asmundson, PhD
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, August 28, 2017