PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS AND HEALTH STATUS OF POLICE OFFICERS IN IBADAN
Police officers while maintaining law and order may experience psychosocial hazards which adversely affect their health. Work conditions can influence psychosocial well being, which in turn could influence their work performance, therefore affecting their attitude to the public. As there is little information on this subject, this study was conducted to determine the psychosocial hazards and health status of police officers in Ibadan, Nigeria. A cross-sectional study was conducted, which utilized cluster sampling technique to select 435 police officers in the two area commands in Ibadan. A total of 37 divisions in both area commands were grouped into large and small, based on a calculated average population of 100 police officers per division. Three divisions each (one large and two small) were selected by balloting from the two area commands. All police officers in the selected divisions were requested to participate in the study. A structured self administered questionnaire was used to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics, operational and organizational stressors, psychosocial hazards and general health status. The General Health Questionnaire 12 was used to assess psychological distress with a maximum obtainable score of 12 and scores of ≥3 were indicative of psychological distress. Descriptive statistic, chi-square test and logistic regression were used for data analysis. Results were deemed significant at p<0.05. Among the respondents 72.4% were males. Mean age was 31.8 ± 8.3 years and 87.6% were junior officers. Organizational stressors experienced included multiple tasks, working overtime and poor support from superiors. The most important operational stressor among junior and senior officers was witnessing the death of a colleague 45.7% and 61.1% respectively (p<0.05). Psychosocial problems consisted of low public regard for their work (32.6%) and dissatisfaction with their living environment (46.2%). The use of sedatives (3.0%) and alcohol abuse (4.8%) were reported. Only 58.4% had a medical checkup in the preceding one month. General health symptoms at the time of interview included cough (21.1%), catarrh (30.6%), urethral and vaginal discharge (1.4%) and (3.9%), headaches (36.3%) and low back pain (27.8%). Psychological distress was observed in 34.3% of police officers: 34.9% junior officers and 29.6% senior officers. Significant predictors of UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN LIBRARY iv psychological distress were female sex (O.R:1.91, 95% CI 1.16-3.15), multiple tasks (O.R:2.74, 95% CI 1.53-4.89), special duty (O.R:2.36, 95% CI 1.28- 4.37), confused feedback (O.R:3.05, 95% CI 1.44- 6.42), bureaucratic hassles (O.R:2.71, 95%CI 1.33-5.51), constant use of sedatives (O.R:2.15, 95% CI 1.22-3.79), and frequent alcohol consumption (O.R:5.15, 95% CI 1.58- 16.75). Psychosocial hazards and psychological distress were common among police officers. Improved work conditions and early interventions to prevent psychological ill health should be instituted in the Nigeria Police Force. There is need for provision of adequate health services for psychological screening, and treatment of the common ailments which were prevalent in this study. Key words: Police officers, Psychosocial hazards, Organizational stressors, Operational stressors, Psychological distress.