The relationship between stress and health (i.e., both physical health and psychological well-being) has received much attention over the years, with researchers demonstrating a consistent association between the two; that is, the more stress people experience, the poorer their physical and mental health. People with higher stress levels report significantly lower overall health and well-being, report the presence of significantly more adverse health symptoms (e.g., increased blood pressure, sleep disturbances), are at greater risk for long-term health problems (e.g., hypertension, coronary artery disease, auto-immune disorders, diabetes), are at greater risk for premature mortality, are more likely to experience symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological ailments (e.g., substance abuse), and they utilize significantly more health care resources (e.g., physicians, hospitals, sick days).
Occupational stress also has a negative effect on employers, something which many people (including the employers themselves) often overlook. Direct costs to employers include reduced productivity, as well as increased absenteeism and employee turnover as a result of issues such as stress-related illness, burnout and low levels of job satisfaction (e.g., Spielberger, Reheiser, Reheiser, & Vagg, 2000). Other costs to employers include health insurance payments to individuals and their families for workplace-related psychological disabilities. The association between stress and health is particularly worrisome for those who work in high stress occupations. One of the most highly stressful occupations in North America is policing (e.g., Pendleton, Stotland, Spiers, & Kirsch, 1989).
The Operational Police Stress Questionnaire (PSQ-Op) is a short, psychometrically sound measure of the operational stressors associated with policing, which should be used in future programs of research investigating the associations among stress, physical health, and psychological well-being.