Police stress in Hong Hong : officers of the Emergency Unit, gender analysis and the needs for the development of stress management

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Stress in policing affects not only serving officers, but also the community they serve. In particular, officers in the Emergency Units may be expected to experience high levels of stress. While there has been a growing body of research on stress and policing among developed countries, there is a lack of comparable research in the Hong Kong context. In response to environmental changes, female officers were admitted to the Emergency Unit since 1997, and now they perform the same duties as their male counterparts. What are the causes and levels of stress of such officers in EU? What are their ways of coping with stress and are such ways effective? Are there any gender differences in police stress? This study investigates these pressing questions with a view to developing understandings and strategies to improve the situation for serving officers and for the Hong Kong Force. The research design consists of an historical overview of stress in Hong Kong policing, together with a combination of quantitative and qualitative investigative approaches, replicating a validated international study by McCreary & Thompson (2006) in order to generate comparable results with other countries. Interviews and focus group discussion provided a more fine-grained analysis of sources of stress and strategies for managing stress, and identified strategies for stress management. Results of the study identify, in general, that organizational stressors are significantly greater than operational stressors. Further, significant differences were found between male and female officers in relation to sources and levels of stress. Implications of these results include an argument for more organizational efforts to address related issues, and further comparative research in other police units. In particular, the thesis argues the need for continuous development of stress management within the Hong Kong situation, and contributes an international comparative reference.
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