Operational definitions

Due to the confusion about terminology used in the area of trauma, the following definitions will be used for the purposes of the current study:

  • Depersonalisation: One of the core components of burnout, depersonalisation is a negative, cynical or excessively detached response to other people at work
  • Interpersonal support: the participant’s perception of the level of interpersonal support they have available to them, including material aid, someone to talk to about problems and someone to do things with
  • Resilience: ‘the capacity of a given system to implement early, effective adjustment processes to alleviate strain imposed by exposure to stress, thus efficiently restoring homeostatic balance or adaptive functioning within a given psychological domain following a temporary perturbation therein’ (Layne, Warren, Watson, & Shalev, 2007, p. 500) In the current report an individual is considered resilient only if showing improvement, or a lack of deterioration, across three life domains.

The first of the domains, ‘Health and Wellbeing’, is assessed using the four measures of general health, affective distress (depression, anxiety and stress), drug and alcohol use, and personal relationship satisfaction. Resilience in this domain is equal to no change, or improvement across time, for all four of these measures.

The second of the domains, ‘Reactivity to Trauma’, will reflect the amount of posttraumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology the individual reports having experienced following exposure to potentially traumatic policing events. A measure of PTSD  symptomatology is used to assess this domain, and resilience will equal a score on this measure that is below a clinical cut-off point.

The third domain, ‘Workplace Functioning’ reflects the individual’s ability to work and function in a stressful occupation. A measure of burnout will be used to assess this domain, and in addition the individual’s use of both police and community mental health services will be measured. Resilience in this domain equals scores within the low risk range against at least two out of the three types of burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment) and not having accessed police help services, or external help services.

PTSD Symptomatology: the combined symptoms of the disorder