Emergency stress: The impact of connectedness on perceived stress level in public safety professionals
Stress related illness is one of the most critical health issues facing public safety professionals today. Much of the research has focused on interventions such as critical incident stress management and the provision of clinical and peer support to public safety professionals after a problem has been identified. The current study focused on identifying environmental factors that would increase resiliency to the harmful effects of working in a highly stressful profession. It was hypothesized that a higher reported sense of connectedness to and a sense of feeling needed and valued by community, friends/family, and co-workers would predict lower perceived stress levels in public safety professionals. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, detention personnel, and civilian support staff (n=218) from four agencies in a large mid-western city participated in an internet based questionnaire to determine participants stress levels using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and levels of connectedness on nine predictors. The model accounted for more than one third of the variance in participants’ perceived stress levels. The participants’ connectedness to family/friends and community as well as a sense of being needed and valued by co-workers accounted for the most variance in the model.