Development and initial reliability and validity of four self-report measures used in research on interactions between police officers and individuals with mental illnesses

Psychiatry Res. 2011 Oct 30;189(3):458-62. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.06.017. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


There currently exists a dearth of reliable and valid instruments to examine key police officer variables of importance in the growing research on their interactions with individuals with mental illnesses. This study tested reliability and validity of four newly designed measures of the constructs of self-efficacy (Self-Efficacy Scale; SES), referral decisions and de-escalation skills (Behavioral Outcomes Scale; BOS), attitudes toward psychiatric treatment (Opinions about Psychiatric Treatment; OPT), and social distance (Adapted Social Distance Scale; ASDS) in a sample of law enforcement officers. Self-administered, anonymous surveys, which included the measures of interest, were completed by 177 officers-68 of whom were undergoing Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and 109 of whom were not-at the beginning and end of week-long trainings. Analyses examined the internal consistency reliability, test-retest reliability, and construct validity of the instruments. The four measures of interest were found to be reliable and valid. Specifically, internal consistency coefficients and test-retest reliability correlations were generally acceptable, all four demonstrated sensitivity to change, and validity correlations were significant and in the expected direction. Findings demonstrated the ability to measure key constructs related to attitudes and intended behaviors in law enforcement officers utilizing psychometrically sound instruments. Further testing and the development of additional reliable and valid instruments focused on attitudinal and behavioral domains among officers who have frequent interactions with individuals with mental illnesses would be of great value.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Police*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Social Behavior
  • Young Adult