Coping, stress, burnout and engagement within the South African Police Service in KwaZulu-Natal
Recently, there has been an increasing interest in the occurrence of burnout among police personnel. It is especially engagement, the positive antithesis of burnout, that promises to yield new perspectives on interventions to alleviate burnout. Previous research indicate relationships between coping, stress and burnout, whist such relationships with engagement in police members have not yet been investigated. The results of such research have implications for programs in the police service. The objective of this research was to determine the relationship between coping, stress, burnout and engagement with members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Kwazulu-Natal. A cross-sectional research design was used. A stratified random sample of 257 police personnel in Kwazulu-Natal were taken. The Cope Questionnaire (COPE), Police Stress Inventory (PSI), Maslach Burnout lnventory - General Survey (MBI-GS), and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) were used as measuring instruments. Cronbach alpha coefficients, inter-item correlation coefficients and confirmatory factor analysis were used to determine the validity and reliability of the measuring instruments. Descriptive statistics, Pearson-product correlation coefficients, canonical correlation coefficients, analysis of variance and t-tests were used to analyse the data. The results showed that Indian police members had higher levels of exhaustion than White members and higher levels of reduced professional efficacy than Black members. A practically significant difference was also found between cynicism levels when police members with and without present medical conditions were compared. It was also found that high work demands and lack of work resources were related to high exhaustion levels, and that high passive coping strategies were related to high exhaustion and cynicism and low professional efficacy levels. The expected inverse relationship between burnout and engagement was confirmed by the low levels of exhaustion and cynicism and the high levels of professional efficacy associated with high levels of vigour, dedication and absorption. Finally, it was found that high levels of problem-focused coping, social support and turning to religion were associated with high levels of each of the three engagement dimensions. Recommendations to the SAPS and recommendations for future research were made.