Sleep Quality among Police Officers: Implications and Insights from a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Literature

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 201916(5), 885;


Poor sleep is associated with bad health outcomes, worse wellbeing and decreases in performance, productivity and safety at work. Police officers are exposed to several risk factors including extended work schedules, shift work, occupational stress, dangerous and traumatic events and can, as such, develop sleep problems. The aim of the present study was to analyze the sleep quality among police officers. A systematic literature search, in PubMed/MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Scopus, ISI/Web of Science (WoS) and the Cochrane Library was conducted. Original articles, published in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, the primary objective of which was the evaluation of the quality of sleep through the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) in Police Forces, were selected. From an initial sample of 1,149 studies, 13 articles were included in the meta-analysis (3,722 police officers). The pooled prevalence of bad sleep quality in police officers was 51% [95%CI 42–60%]. The pooled global score of the PSQI was 5.6 [95%CI 5.0–6.3], corresponding to a low average quality. At the meta-regressions, statistically significant associations could be found for work seniority (in terms of years of service) and being on shift. The poor quality of sleep in police officers could have negative consequences for workers’ health and for the safety of third parts. The implementation of health and sleep hygiene promotion programs in police forces is strongly recommended.

This study, the first meta-analysis about sleep quality in police officers, shows a high presence of poor sleep quality in this workers’ collective. The meta-analysis of the scores obtained with the PSQI in the different studies showed a pooled mean score higher than the cut-off that is considered indicative of poor quality of sleep. Significant associations with work seniority and shift work could be detected.

Sleep disorders are a relevant issue among police officers, and can cause significant damage to health. Sleep health promotion programs are, therefore, strongly needed in police forces. The health and wellbeing of the police officers, because of the type of their work, should be pursued not only from the viewpoint of occupational medicine but also within the perspective of public health, in order to guarantee the safety of all of society. Society as a whole has a high interest in improving the health of police officers. The scientific world should contribute to this need by improving the quality of studies dedicated to police work.

From the study discussion: The authors state that most data were from the United States. No studies carried out in Europe could be found. This could affect the generalizability of our results.

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