Policing is a stressful and dangerous profession with one of the highest rates of injury and illness. Furthermore, police with chronic problematic anger (inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger) are more likely to have impaired decision making skills and use inappropriate aggression. Finally, problematic anger has been associated with many adverse behavioral, occupational, and health consequences. To date, most treatment outcome research in police personnel has focused on stress reduction. However, no meta-analytic review has synthesized findings about the impact of interventions on anger among police personnel. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which psychological interventions reduce anger among police personnel.
All potential articles identified in a comprehensive literature search were evaluated for inclusion into the meta-analysis using the following inclusion criteria: a) a psychological intervention was provided (e.g., stress management, mindfulness, yoga, relaxation, anger management); b) to police personnel; c) a pre-post or treatment versus control comparison was used to evaluate outcomes; d) anger or hostility were used as outcome variables; e) the article was published in an academic journal; and f) the article was written in English. Articles that met inclusion criteria underwent abstract review and then a full-text review by independent coders. Pre-treatment to post-treatment effect sizes and pre-treatment to follow-up effect sizes were calculated for treatment groups. Effect sizes for treatment against a comparison group at each time measurement point were also computed. Pre-post and treatment-control effect sizes were converted to Hedge’s d and aggregated into a cumulative Hedge’s d. Kendall’s Tau was calculated to evaluate publication bias and Rosenthal’s fail safe was calculated to evaluate the number of null comparisons that would be needed to cause the cumulative effect size to become nonsignificant.
A total of 8 articles met inclusion criteria. The cumulative mean effect size was homogenous (Cochran’s Q = 8.26, p = .31), large (Hedge’s d = .93) and significant (C.I. = .39 - 1.61). Kendall’s Tau was significant (τ = -.57, p = .05) which indicated that studies with larger samples yielded smaller effect sizes.
These preliminary results indicate that treatment outcome evaluations targeting anger among police personnel are surprisingly rare even though they appear to have substantial beneficial effects on anger and hostility. Further research is warranted to provide additional information about mediator and moderators of intervention effects.
Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio