Mindfulness training reduces PTSD symptoms and improves stress-related health outcomes in police officers.
J Police Crim Psychol. 2021 Mar ;36(1):72-85. Epub 2019 Nov 29. PMID: 33737763
Daniel W Grupe
Law enforcement officers are regularly exposed directly and indirectly to a wide variety of traumatic stressors, which take place against a backdrop of high levels of organizational stressors. Consequently, this group is at elevated risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other negative physical and mental health outcomes, yet there are few empirically supported interventions to proactively mitigate the effects of occupational stress for this population. Recent studies suggest that training in mindfulness meditation may reduce perceived stress and improve related physical and mental health outcomes in this group. We sought to demonstrate feasibility, acceptability, and adherence for an 8-week mindfulness training program in 30 officers from a mid-sized, Midwestern U.S. police department, replicate findings of improved stress-related health outcomes, and provide novel evidence for reduced PTSD symptoms. All 30 officers completed the training, with high rates of class attendance, substantial out-of-class practice time, and good acceptability of the training and teachers. We replicated findings of reduced post-training perceived stress, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and burnout. We also identified novel evidence for reduced PTSD symptoms that persisted at a 5-month follow-up assessment. These results indicate key targets for future investigation in larger, mechanistic, randomized controlled trials of mindfulness training in police officers.