Original Research

Personality, depressive symptoms and prior trauma exposure of new recruits at two Metropolitan Police Service academies in South Africa

U Subramaney, E Libhaber, N Pitts, M Vorster
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 18, No 4 | a390 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v18i4.390 | © 2012 U Subramaney, E Libhaber, N Pitts, M Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2012 | Published: 01 December 2012

About the author(s)

U Subramaney, Division of Psychiatry, Department of Neurosciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
E Libhaber, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
N Pitts, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
M Vorster, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background. Police officers are predisposed to trauma exposure. The development of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be influenced by personality style, prior exposure to traumatic events and prior depression.

Objectives. To describe the personality profiles of new Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers, and to determine the association between personality profiles, trauma exposure and depressive symptoms.

Methods. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 139 new recruits at two MPS academies in South Africa. A questionnaire elucidating traumatic life events and personality profiles was developed using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III). Depressive symptoms were measured using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD).

Results. Almost all subjects (99.3%) had previous trauma exposure, most commonly the unexpected death of a loved one and motor vehicle accidents. Prevalence of clinical depression was low (mean HAMD 3.57; standard deviation ±3.37). Personality characteristics revealed a high prevalence of anxiety (64.7%; 95% CI 56.8 - 72.6), depressive clinical patterns (34.5%; 95% CI 26.6 - 42.2), paranoia (33.1 %; 95% CI 26.6 - 42.2) and major depression (10.3%; 95% CI 5.1 - 15.1). There were no significant associations between any of the traumatic events and depressive symptoms, nor were there any significant associations between any of the personality variables and HAMD score (p>0.05).

Conclusion. The presence of depressive symptoms among MPS officers was low, with no significant associations between traumatic events, personality variables and depressive symptoms.


Keywords

Metro policeofficers; depression; PTSD; personality

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