Gender differences in New York City police officer 9/11 trauma

Cheryl K. Wilczak (2005)

The dissertation has two components: a proposed study and consultant feedback on the proposed study. The proposed study was designed to examine gender differences in work stress and trauma in police officers who have been exposed to a traumatic event, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Through a mixed methods research design, three broad areas of research questions have been proposed: (a) Have female police officers experienced higher levels of work stress than male police officers before, during, and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?; (b) have female police officers presented with different symptoms of trauma than male police officers since the terrorist attacks?; and (c) is there a relationship between levels of work stress and symptoms of trauma experienced by male and female police officers, respectively? Three assessment instruments are recommended for use in the proposed study, and assembled into a questionnaire packet: (a) The Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS) (Foa, 1995), (b) The Project SHIELDS Questionnaire (Gershon, Lin, & Li, 2002), adapted version, and (c) an open-ended questionnaire, developed by the present author for specific use in the proposed study. Questionnaire packets, it is proposed, will be handed out to police officers and collected by four individuals who are in frequent contact with officers from four New York City precincts. The proposed study was not implemented. Rather, the assessment questionnaires and procedures for the proposed study were evaluated by eight police experts, six of whom were males and two were females. The police experts completed consultant feedback forms. They rated the assessment instruments and research design and procedure. Extensive feedback included common recommendations. Police officer confidentiality must be maintained through stringent means. The possibility of re-experiencing of trauma symptoms through completion of the questionnaire must be addressed. The value of obtaining data from the projected police sample through the snowball technique has value despite response bias because the population has never been studied in the past. Police experts rated the instruments positively, giving the most positive overall evaluation to the 9/11 Questionnaire developed by the author. Adjustments were made to the questionnaire packet and recruitment procedures based on the feedback.