An examination of social support, personality and psychological wellbeing in police employees

Jackman, Patricia and Coussens, Adam and Clay, Georgia and Henderson, Hannah (2019) An examination of social support, personality and psychological wellbeing in police employees. In: British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference 2019, Chester, UK.

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Abstract

Introduction: Enhancing health and wellbeing of employees is becoming a growing concern for researchers, employers, policy makers and practitioners in today’s society. The promotion of employees’ psychological wellbeing can be mutually beneficial for individuals and organisations (Wright, 2010). Research has found that psychological wellbeing in a workforce is associated with a range of positive outcomes, including increased work performance (Ford, Cerasoli, Higgins & Decesare, 2011), enhanced job satisfaction (Wright & Cropanzano, 2000) and reduced voluntary staff turnover (Wright & Bonett, 2007). Given the desirability of these outcomes for employers, employees and broader society, this highlights the importance of understanding how psychological wellbeing can be enhanced and maintained in the workplace. Policing is becoming an increasingly complex and demanding work environment (e.g., Hesketh, Cooper & Ivy, 2015), and police can be exposed to a variety of stressors that can have a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing (Juniper, White & Bellamy, 2010). Higher levels of perceived organisational support have been associated with increased psychological wellbeing (Pannaccio & Vandenbergh, 2009), while an individual’s personality has also been identified as an important predictor of wellbeing (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998). To date, little research appears to have examined links between psychological wellbeing, social support and personality characteristics in policing. Therefore, the primary aim of the study was to examine the relationship between psychological wellbeing with received and perceived support from colleagues and personality characteristics in police.

Design: The present study utilised a cross-sectional design. The variables assessed were psychological wellbeing, received social support, perceived social support and five personality characteristics, comprising agreeableness, openness to experience, emotional stability, conscientiousness and extraversion. Methods Participants: All operational and non-operational employees of a police force in the Midlands region of England were invited to participate in the study, with a total of 381 employees (M age = 42.49, SD = 9.85; female n = 187; male n = 183; unspecified gender n = 11) agreeing to take part (17.8% response rate). Ethical approval was obtained from a school ethics committee at a British university.

Measures: Participants completed an online questionnaire via Qualtrics. The questionnaire comprised the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS; Tennant et al., 2007), an adapted version of the shortened Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviours (ISSB; Barrerra, Sandler & Ramsay, 1981), Social Provisions Scale (SPS; Russell & Cutrona, 1987), and Ten-Item Personality Inventory (Gosling, Renfrow & Swann, 2003). Responses for the WEMWBS and ISSB reflected a four-week period prior to completing the questionnaire. Data analysis Data were analysed in SPSS 22. Initially, data were examined to establish whether the assumptions required to run parametric tests were satisfied. Visual inspection of scatterplots and results of normality tests revealed that data for psychological wellbeing, perceived support, received support, and personality characteristics were not normally distributed. As a result, the median, interquartile range, and standard deviations of these measures were calculated, and non-parametric analyses undertaken. A Spearman’s rank order correlation analysis was conducted to examine relationships between the study variables. A multiple logistical regression analysis was used to examine whether perceived support, received support, and personality characteristics predicted psychological wellbeing.

Results: Results of the Spearman’s rank correlational analysis showed that psychological wellbeing was significantly (p < .05) and positively associated with perceived support, received support, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience. The multiple logistical regression analysis indicated the likelihood of each variable predicting psychological wellbeing. In terms of social support, psychological wellbeing was significantly (p < .05) predicted by received support and perceived support. With regards to the predictive capacity of the personality characteristics, only extraversion and emotional stability significantly predicted psychological wellbeing. The remaining variables in the model, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness, were not significant predictors of psychological wellbeing.

Discussion and Conclusions: The current findings advance understanding of the association between psychological wellbeing and received and perceived support, and personality in police employees. Both received and perceived support significantly predicted psychological wellbeing, demonstrating that employees that received more support from colleagues, and perceived support to be more readily available from colleagues, had elevated psychological wellbeing. Furthermore, the personality traits of extraversion and emotional stability significantly predicted psychological wellbeing, such that employees characterized by greater levels of these traits reported enhanced psychological wellbeing. These findings emphasise the important role that both received and perceived support, and certain personality traits, could have with respect to psychological wellbeing in police employees. These findings add to the organsational psychology literature, provide recommendations for employers of emergency service workers, and could help to inform the design of tailored psychosocial interventions.

Keywords:mental health; perceived support; received support
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C811 Occupational Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:34687
Deposited On:17 Jan 2019 15:27

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