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A comparison of probable post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol consumption among active female members of the UK Police Service and UK Armed Forces

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Patricia Irizar, Sharon A.M. Stevelink, David Pernet, Suzanne H. Gage, Neil Greenberg, Simon Wessely, Laura Goodwin, Nicola T. Fear

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: SAMS, SW, NTF, MH and NG are based at King’s College London. This paper represents independent research part funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London Maudsley Foundation Trust and King’s College London. NTF salary is part funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). NTF reports grants from the US Department of Defence and the UK MoD, is a trustee (unpaid) of The Warrior Programme, is Chair of the Emergency Responders Senior Leaders Board and is an independent advisor to the Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data (IGARD) for NHS Digital. NG undertakes voluntary roles with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and runs his own psychological health consultancy. The research was partially funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response at King’s College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and Newcastle University. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, or the MoD. Funding Information: SAMS, SW, NTF, MH and NG are based at King’s College London. This paper represents independent research part funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London Maudsley Foundation Trust and King’s College London. SAMS and NTF salaries are part funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). NTF reports grants from the US Department of Defence and the UK MoD, is a trustee (unpaid) of The Warrior Programme, is Chair of the Emergency Responders Senior Leaders Board and is an independent advisor to the Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data (IGARD) for NHS Digital. The research was partially funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response at King’s College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and Newcastle University. The Airwave Health Monitoring Study was funded by the UK Home Office (780-TETRA, 2003–2018) and is currently funded by the MRC and ESRC (MR/R023484/1). This research was conducted as part of PI’s PhD studentship which is funded by the ESRC (ES/P000665/1) and partly funded by the charity, Alcohol Change UK. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).

King's Authors

Abstract

Background: The British Police Service and Armed Forces are male-dominated occupations, characterised by frequent trauma exposure and intensive demands. Female police employees and military personnel may have unique experiences and face additional strains to their male counterparts. This analysis compared the levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption, and comorbidity in female police employees and military personnel. Methods: Police data were obtained from the Airwave Health Monitoring Study (N = 14,145; 2007–2015) and military data from the Health and Wellbeing Cohort Study (N = 928; phase 2: 2007–2009 and phase 3: 2014–2016). Multinomial/logistic regressions analysed sample differences in probable PTSD, hazardous (14–35 units per week) and harmful (35 + units per week) alcohol consumption, and comorbid problems. We compared covariate adjustment and entropy balancing (reweighting method controlling for the same covariates) approaches. Results: There were no significant differences in probable PTSD (police: 3.74% vs military: 4.47%) or hazardous drinking (police: 19.20% vs military: 16.32%). Female military personnel showed significantly higher levels of harmful drinking (4.71%) than police employees (2.42%; Adjusted Odds Ratios [AOR] = 2.26, 95% Confidence Intervals [CIs] = 1.60–3.21), and comorbidity (1.87%) than police employees (1.00%, AOR = 2.07, 95% CI = 1.21–3.54). Entropy balancing and covariate-adjustments obtained the same results. Conclusions: Comparable levels of probable PTSD were observed, which are slightly lower than estimates observed in the female general population. Future research should explore the reasons for this. However, female military personnel showed higher levels of harmful drinking than police employees, emphasising the need for alcohol interventions in military settings.

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