Thomas, D. (2021). An interpretative phenomenological analysis of burnout among British Police Officers [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

Burnout is defined as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment (Maslach et al., 1986). With burnout becoming increasingly prevalent within policing, this study aims to provide a greater understanding of the condition by exploring the lived experience of burnout for British officers. Whilst research into police burnout has been well documented, the quantitative measures frequently adopted provided little scope to explore the deeper and more personal aspects of the syndrome. Utilising a qualitative approach, this study derived data from five participants using semi-structured interviews and an interpretative phenomenological methodology for analysis. Six categories of themes emerged: 1.Perceived causes, 2.Personal impact factors, 3.Experiencing burnout, 4.Changed feelings and behaviour, 5.The underlying meaning, and 6.What was the learning? Participants perceive working conditions and environment as the main cause for their burnout. They also describe other aspects of experience which have contributed towards their long-term suffering and subsequent health issues. The relationship between police burnout and spiritual crisis is discussed, an area rarely explored and provides rich material for those focussed on burnout research. It is hoped that this study will help inform work-based solutions and provide a platform for future investigation.

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