Term of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Kelly Sullivan

Committee Member 1

Andrew Hansen

Committee Member 2

JingJing Yin


Objective: Post-traumatic stress symptoms may negatively impact law enforcement performance and skew judgment in a high-stress dangerous situation, leading to an inappropriate response. The purpose of this study was fivefold: 1) to determine the prevalence of self-reported post-traumatic stress symptoms; 2) to identify associations between demographics and environmental exposures with post-traumatic stress symptoms, barriers to help seeking, and quality-of-life; 3) to examine the relationship between barriers to help seeking and self-reported post-traumatic stress symptoms overall, and by environment; 4) to explore the impact of environment on the relationship between barriers to help seeking and quality-of-life; and 5) to ascertain if the association between post-traumatic stress symptoms and quality-of-life was modified by environment among law enforcement in this sample.

Methods: An anonymous questionnaire consisting of basic demographics, the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist- Civilian Version (PCL-C), Barriers to Help Seeking Scale (BHSS), Short Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12) was distributed to sworn law enforcement officers. Completed questionnaires were assessed to determine: self-reported post-traumatic stress symptom prevalence; the demographic and environmental associations with post-traumatic stress symptoms, barriers to help seeking, and quality-of-life; and, the impact of environment on the associations between post-traumatic stress symptoms, barriers to help seeking, and quality-of-life.

Results: Self-reported post-traumatic stress symptom prevalence reached approximately 40%. In the weighted whole sample and in the unweighted environmental subgroups, BHSS scores and PCL-C scores were significantly positively correlated in almost all conditions, and both BHSS total scores and SF-12 scores, and PCL-C scores and SF-12 scores, were significantly negatively correlated in the majority of conditions.

Conclusions: Demographics and environment had significant impacts on the outcome variables employed in this study. Demographics that reached significance included sex, years as a sworn officer, and previous mental health treatment. Environment modified some of the relationships between the three outcome variables, but the pattern was not the same throughout all interactions. This research constitutes a portion of the groundwork necessary for future mental health interventions in the Georgia law enforcement population, taking into account the barriers and stigma that may be perceived in contrasting environments, and the confounders that may skew results and lead to ineffective programming.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Wednesday, July 16, 2025