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Police officers and post-incident trauma: psychological debriefing



Police officers and post-incident trauma: Evaluating the efficacy of psychological debriefing among Police Services in Northern Ireland


Trina Tamrakar


Increased exposure to critical traumatic incidents among police officers has been associated with a high prevalence of alcohol abuse, poorer sleep quality and increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research on the efficacy of crisis interventions, such as psychological debriefing, has shown mixed results, requiring further investigation.

The objectives are to:

  • evaluate the impact of existing trauma risk management strategies in place at the Police Services, specifically, psychological debriefing,

  • develop an empirically-driven debriefing evaluation tool, and

  • provide recommendations for reducing secondary traumatization in the Police Services.


Natural experiment design with qualitative data collected through questionnaires. Police officers will be asked to evaluate the debriefing process and complete the Trauma Inventory Scale (a measure of post-traumatic stress) just after debriefing and three months post debriefing. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis will be used for data analysis. Data from the qualitative part of the study will be used to develop a tool to evaluate the debriefing process of the Police Services of Northern Ireland.


Police officers, debriefing, psychological debriefing, PTSD, critical incident, emergency personnel

Start date and expected end date

15.04.2017 - 29.02.2020

Main supervisor

Professor Ask Elklit, Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark


Dr. Jamie Murphy, Ulster University, UK;
Dr. Tracey Reid, Police Services in Northern Ireland


Police Services in Northern Ireland


European Union, Marie Curie Actions

Last Updated 19.10.2023