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Z Psychosom Med Psychother. 2009;55(1):70-83.

[Coping mechanisms of police officers with mental and psychosomatic symptoms after an event of potential psychotraumatic nature].

[Article in German]

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie, Universitätsklinikum Münster, Domagkstr. 22, D-48149 Münster.



This prospective study analyzes the coping mechanisms of police officers directly after an event of potential traumatic nature in the line of duty (e. g. use of firearms) as well as 6 months later.


59 police officers were contacted by professional crisis intervention teams of the police force. After an extended interview, an ICD-10 diagnosis, if applicable, was assigned. Six months later a diagnosis was derived by a clinician (Diplom-Psychologe) using a structured interview. Coping strategies were accessed by the FKV (Freiburger Fragebogen zur Krankheitsverarbeitung) questionnaire.


Fourteen police officers (28%) received the diagnosis of a PTSD (ICD-10: F43.1) at 6 months. The coping mechanisms of the traumatized police officers were significantly elevated in a dysfunctional manner in the areas "emotional control and social retreat" (only directly after the event), "regression", "mistrust and pessimism", and "depressive processing".


Because dysfunctional coping mechanisms impede the decline of the symptoms, it may be considered adequate to strengthen the coping mechanisms for functional coping with these symptoms, thereby focusing on the dysfunctional coping strategy specific to the police force, namely, emotional control.

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