A program evaluation of the post critical incident seminar


The occupational demands of law enforcement officers (LEOs) subject them to the possibility of extreme risk on a daily basis. LEOs have a great potential for exposure to traumatic events in their type of work, and research supports that these traumatic events have notable effects on LEO’s mental health (Dowling et al. 2006). Furthermore, work environment and organizational stressors have been found to contribute to LEO distress and decrease in wellbeing as much as traumatic stressors (Collins & Gibbs, 2003). The way LEOs cope with both types of these stressors, combined with their lack of social support, exacerbates poor mental health (Menard & Arter, 2013; Stephens & Long, 1999). In response to these issues, law enforcement agencies strive to provide debriefings for LEOs after traumatic incidents. The most commonly used and researched debriefing is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD). Although there is a lack of supportive quantitative evidence (van Emmerick et al., 2002), results from qualitative studies on CISD provide some evidence as to why CISD is still commonly utilized (Becker at al., 2009). Utilizing research on CISD, a modified debriefing and peer-support program was developed, the Post Critical Incident Seminar (PCIS). The PCIS is a multiday seminar that provides mental health treatment, peer support and social support to LEOs who have been through traumatic experiences that are unresolved, and whose symptoms are negatively affecting their lives. To better serve the numerous people this program affects, a program evaluation was conducted in order to increase its benefit and reduce the likelihood of harm. Archival data consisting of measures of PTSD symptoms, depression, and anxiety was utilized, as well data from a qualitative questionnaire. Participants were 52 LEOs who completed a PCIS in 2012. A Repeated Measures MANOVA was conducted to analyze change across time of LEOs’ symptoms, and results showed significant change on all measures (F(2,102)=187.58, p<0.01, partial eta squared = 0.78; F(2,102)=109.08, p<0.01, partial eta squared = 0.681; F(2,102)=89.39, p<0.01, partial eta squared = 0.637). The results of the qualitative questionnaire revealed themes about how the PCIS was helpful for the participants and showed that their overall experience of the PCIS was more positive than negative. Implications and recommendations for future PCIS’s are discussed.






Rachel Marie Sparn

Original Work Citation

Sparn, R. M. (2015). A program evaluation of the post critical incident seminar. (Doctoral dissertation, Spalding University)



“A program evaluation of the post critical incident seminar,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 31, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/26120.

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