Purpose: The Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) study is one of the first population-based studies to integrate psychological, physiological, and subclinical measures of stress, disease, and mental dysfunction. This pilot study was undertaken to establish a methodology and descriptive results for a larger police study.
Methods: A stratified sample of 100 officers was randomly selected from the Buffalo, NY Police Department. Salivary cortisol served as a stress biomarker. Flow mediated dilation (FMD) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) were performed with ultrasound. Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) and anthropometric measures assessed body composition. Self-report measures of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were obtained.
Results: Recruitment attained for the study was 100%. Seventy-five percent showed a cortisol increase upon awakening, 90% a negative diurnal slope, and 77% an increased cortisol response after a high protein lunch challenge. Dexamethasone suppression was evident. FMD showed an increase in mean brachial artery diameter of 3.2% in men and 3.9% in women, and mean IMT was lower (male=0.67 mm; female=0.62 mm) compared to populations of similar age. For males, the mean body-mass index (BMI) was 29.8 kg/m2 and total body fat 23.4%. For females, the mean BMI was 26.7 kg/m2 and total body fat 31.5%. For all officers, 16% met criteria for depression; 36% reported elevated PTSD symptoms.
Conclusions: Compared to populations of similar age, police officers had slightly lower FMD, lower carotid IMT, elevated BMI, and higher reported rates of depression and PTSD. Standardized physiological and psychological data collection and descriptive results confirmed that the methodology of the study is feasible in a working police population.