Salivary markers of work stress in an emergency team of urban police (1 degree step)

R Zefferino, A Facciorusso, M Lasalvia, M Narciso, A Nuzzaco, R Lucchini, N L'Abbate
Giornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro Ed Ergonomia 2006, 28 (4): 472-7

INTRODUCTION: Stress is usually defined as the experience of negative events or the perceptions of distress and negative affect that are associated with the inability to cope with them. The parameter most suitable for large-scale field studies is the determination of endocrine activity by measurement of salivary cortisol. The aim of the present study is to identify the presence of sources of stress in an emergency team of urban police and to objective such stress using the PSS (Professional Stress Scale) test and bioumoral markers as salivary cortisol and interleukin 1 /f (IL-IB).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied 30 policemen who belonged to an emergency team. Salivary samples were collected at the start and at the end of the work-shift. As control we used the same subjects during the holiday. T test was performed to evaluate the differences between the means, the Chi Square's Test was performed to determine the statistically significant association between PSS subscales and salivary cortisol and ILl-B concentrations.

RESULTS: Thirty policeman were evaluated, their mean age was 44,5 years, their mean work experience was 17,1 years. The PSS test indicated high scores in three subscales, they were work load, organizational structure and processes and lack of resources. SALIVARY CORTISOL: The mean concentration at the start of work-shift was higher than at the end of shift-work (p<0,05). T test indicated a statistically significant difference between mean cortisol concentrations at the same hour during the work (start and end) and during the holiday (P<0,05). A statistically significant negative association was noted between the PERC1 and PSS subscale called "work load" (p<0,05). SALIVARY IL-1B: the mean concentration of ILl-B at the start of the work-shift resulted higher than at the end, such reduction was statistically significant (P<0.05). We verified a positive association between the subclass of PSS Test called "conflict with other professionals" and salivary IL-1B concentration at the start of shift-work (p<0,05). DISCUSSION. Several precedent studies agree with our results. Our study has suggested a work related stress in urban police employed in an emergency team. We might conclude that salivary IL-1B and cortisol are useful markers of stress. We think that our findings, surely preliminary, have be corroborated by the study of vegetative parameters (heart rate, heart rate variability) that is still current. It might be useful to evaluate again the cortisol and IL-1B variations after some structure organizational modifications and after training that will teach the workers coping strategies. We might conclude that the stress discovered in this study is not hazardous for the health, if the workers have adequate holidays.

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