Publications

As part of the Federal Framework on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, the RCMP Longitudinal Study is a concerted effort to address the impact of mental health injuries among RCMP. The largest study of its kind, the RCMP Study is designed to help identify problematic stress very early, provide evidence-based recommendations, and facilitate early access to effective mental health care. The development, analyses, and distribution of peer-reviewed articles from the RCMP Study were supported in part by a generous grant from the Medavie Foundation.

The ideal outcome of the RCMP Study will be the development of a world-class evidence-based system to support RCMP mental health by reducing risk, increasing resilience, and accelerating access to treatment, all of which can then be made available for all those who serve.

Initial results from this longitudinal study are now available, and results will continue to become available over the next several years.

 

Associations Between Personality and Mental Health Among Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets

Read The Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Focus on the Federal Framework for PTSD: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Longitudinal Study

Research efforts to understand risk and resilience profiles for developing posttraumatic stress injuries (PTSI) have included work focused on identifying associations between mental health disorders and specific personality traits. The current study was designed to examine associations between personality and mental health among RCMP cadets. Little is known about the associations between mental health disorders and personality among RCMP cadets starting the Cadet Training Program (CPT) and how personality traits may be meaningfully and differentially associated with mental health challenges. The results indicated that higher levels of Agreeableness, Extraversion, and to some extent Openness to Experience, were each associated with decreased odds of screening positive for mental disorders, suggesting relationships with resilience. In contrast, high Emotionality was associated with increased odds of screening positive for mental disorders and may help inform resources and supports to reduce mental health risks among cadets and serving RCMP. Overall, RCMP cadets already appear to be starting the CTP with personality profiles indicative of mental health resilience. The current results can be used to inform efforts to mitigate PTSI and maintain and bolster such traits to further facilitate mental health resilience among RCMP cadets, serving RCMP and other PSP.

Cardiac function and Posttraumatic stress disorder

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Cardiac function and Posttraumatic stress disorder: A review of the literature and case report

Cardiac research is currently very limited for patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and for people working in stressful occupations. The current study was designed to review the existing literature on PTSD and cardiac function to provide insights about potential benefits of cardiac monitoring for first responders and other public safety personnel (PSP). Researchers also conducted a case study on the use of cardiac monitoring with a participant in a high-pressure hospital setting to illustrate the effects of potentially psychologically traumatic events (PPTE) on cardiac function. The literature review results indicated that there was little research on cardiac function and PTSD or related symptoms in the existing scholarship, and that there was much variation in the few relevant studies. The existing literature does suggest that the heart is affected by continuous stress that can potentially lead to PTSD. The case study results serve as a novel “proof-of-concept” that changes to cardiac function can occur during acute occupational stressors. The current study results suggest noninvasive cardiac monitoring can be used to help identify cardiac changes brought about by PPTE exposures. PPTE exposures and other cumulative stressors can lead to chronic mental health challenges, including PTSD and other posttraumatic stress injuries; therefore, early detection of cardiac dysfunction can serve as a potentially proactive mental health measure.

Cardioautonomic Lability and Heart Rate Variability Among RCMP Cadets

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Cardioautonomic Lability and Heart Rate Variability Among RCMP Cadets

The current study examined variations in cardioautonomic lability among cadets in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Cadet Training Program (CTP). Cardioautonomic lability refers to changes in heart and body functions in response to stress or other external stimuli; for example, elevated heart rate. Cadets (n = 157) were provided with wearable technology equipped with Electrocardiogram (ECG) and heart rate monitoring to wear while training. The technology tracked 31 different heart rate variability factors. Participants were also screened for several mental health disorders using self-report measures. The study results indicated participating RCMP cadets had excellent cardiac health overall and suggested potentially important differences between cadets who did and did not screen positive for mental health disorders. Cadets who screened positively Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) showed less heart rate variability based on a key factor. The current results provide an important baseline for future cardiac research with cadets and serving officers. The results may also inform further research into biological indicators of mental health challenges among police officers and heart-related risk factors for disease or death.

Personality Profiles of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Personality Profiles of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets 

Choosing Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) recruits who have personality traits associated with positive job performance and mental resilience is crucial, yet very little is actually known about the personalities of cadets beginning the Cadet Training Program. This is the first study to apply a personality scale called the HEXACO Personality Inventory Revised to analyse personality, and to analyse sociodemographic differences among cadets and compare them to the general population. The results showed differences between the 772 volunteer cadets and the general population in several areas of personality, and also between men and women cadets. There also seemed to be differences between cadets based on factors such as age, education, and province of residence, among others. And there were signs that cadets were already showing personalities that might be considered ideal for RCMP officers. The HEXACO testing was able to provide additional and more detailed information about key areas of personality, which could provide valuable insights for recruitment and selection processes.

Mental Health Knowledge, Stigma, and Service Use Intentions Among RCMP Cadets

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Mental Health Knowledge, Stigma, and Service Use Intentions Among RCMP Cadets

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers report frequent exposures to several potentially psychologically traumatic events (PPTE), which are associated with the development of diverse mental health injuries. Nearly half of all serving RCMP officers screen positively for one or more mental health disorders. The high prevalence of mental health disorder symptoms reported by serving RCMP is coupled with high levels of stigma and low levels of intention to seek mental health services, further exacerbating mental health challenges. Little is known about the levels of mental health knowledge, stigma, and service use intentions in RCMP cadets starting the Cadet Training Program (CPT). The current study is designed to 1) obtain baseline levels of mental health knowledge, stigma, and service use intentions of RCMP cadets; 2) determine the relationship between mental health knowledge, stigma, and service use intentions among RCMP cadets; 3) examine differences across sociodemographic groups; and 4) compare cadets to a sample of previously surveyed serving RCMP.

Mental health and physical activity among RCMP Cadets

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Prophylactic relationship between mental health disorder symptoms and physical activity of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets during the cadet training program

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) frequently experience potentially psychologically traumatic events (PPTE) as a result of service, contributing to the development of mental health injury. In a recent study, approximately half of participating RCMP screened positive for one or more mental health disorders, which is approximately five times that of the general Canadian population. Evidence suggests that physical activity can provide anxiety-reducing, antidepressant, and stress-buffering effects, yet there is currently limited research examining the effects of physical activity on PSP mental health. The current study assesses the relationship between physical activity and mental health disorder symptoms of cadets during the RCMP Cadet Training Program (CTP). Cadets who burned more active calories per day on average experienced greater decreases in symptoms of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, and alcohol use disorder. Exercise appears to be an accessible, acceptable, and effective tool for supporting cadet mental health. Further research is needed on the potential benefit of exercise for supporting the mental health of serving RCMP, including mitigating symptoms of operational stress and PPTE.

Daily Mental Health Monitoring Among RCMP Cadets

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Daily Mental Health Monitoring Among RCMP Cadets

Self-monitoring of mental health symptoms through the tracking of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours is an integral aspect of many therapies, and can help to lessen the severity of mental health disorder symptoms. This study examined the practice of daily self-monitoring among Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets in the Cadet Training Program. The study assessed whether daily mental health monitoring was likewise associated with improvements in mental health symptoms. Participants completed daily self-report questionnaires and undertook assessment for symptoms of several mental health disorders. Demographic characteristics such as sex, marital status, and education were also examined. Researchers found that cadets who completed more daily surveys reported fewer symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The current results indicate that daily mental health monitoring can potentially provide an accessible tool for supporting RCMP mental health throughout the duration of service.

Mental Health of Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Start of the Cadet Training Program

Read the Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Mental health of Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the start of the Cadet Training Program

A substantial prevalence of serving Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) officers (50.2%) screen positive for one or more mental health disorders. Mental health challenges among serving members have historically been attributed to insufficient screening of recruits, yet little has actually been known about the mental health of cadets. The current study is the first to assess the mental health of RCMP cadets beginning the Cadet Training Program, and compare their mental health to the general population and serving RCMP. The current study results indicate few differences among cadets based on sociodemographic factors, and indicate that cadets have lower prevalence of mental health disorder symptoms than the general public, and much lower than serving RCMP members. The results contrast notions that more rigorous mental health screening of cadets would reduce the prevalence of mental health disorders among serving RCMP. Research focusing on cadets is crucial to understanding the substantial impact of service on the mental health of RCMP.

Putative risk and resiliency factors among Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets

Read the Full Article Research summary Download Infographic

Putative risk and resiliency factors among Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets

The current study marks the first attempt to assess whether Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) cadets are inherently at greater risk of developing mental health challenges. Researchers assessed cadets beginning the Cadet Training Program for risk and resiliency variables previously associated with mental health challenges. The researchers then compared the cadet results to data from general, young adult populations. The results evidenced that the cadets had lower scores on the risk variables associated with mental health challenges, and higher scores on the resiliency associated with mental health strength, relative to the general population. The current study results indicate that the higher prevalence of mental health challenges among serving RCMP are not related to inherent psychological vulnerabilities. Rather, the mental health challenges among RCMP may be associated with frequent exposures to potentially psychologically traumatic events and other occupational stressors, which indicates RCMP need ongoing mental health monitoring and supports throughout their careers.

Potentially Psychologically Traumatic Event Exposure Histories of new Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets

Read The Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Psychological Trauma Exposure Among RCMP Cadets

Exposure to potentially psychologically traumatic events (PPTEs) on the job may account for the high rates of mental health injury among among Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), but it is also possible that prior exposure to trauma could play a role. Yet very little is actually known about PPTE exposures and the mental health of new recruits. This study was designed to provide a first estimate of trauma exposure among cadets beginning the RCMP Cadet Training Program (CTP). As part of the larger RCMP Study, participants completed a survey measuring exposure to 17 different types of PPTEs. This was compared to previous data from the general population, PSP, and serving RCMP. Cadets reported more frequent exposure to PPTEs and to more types of PPTEs than the general population, but far fewer than serving RCMP and other public safety personnel. Serious transport accident, physical assault, and sudden accidental death were seen as the ‘worst’ traumatic events, and all were associated with mental health injury. Yet despite having experienced more trauma than the general population, cadets appear to have better metal health, and may have been motivated by these experiences to choose a career in policing. High rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and injury among serving members appear to be the result of service, and not exposure to trauma experienced before joining the RCMP.

Suicidal Ideation, Planning, and Attempts Among new Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets

Read The Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Suicidal Ideation, Planning, and Attempts Among New Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets

A large amount of RCMP members suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders, which can in turn increase their risk for death by suicide. This study is the first to examine the prevalence of suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide) and behaviour (planning and attempts) among RCMP cadets. Cadets participating in this volunteer study undertook clinical interviews and a demographic survey. This was compared to data about serving RCMP members and the general population. The data showed a greater prevalence of suicidal thoughts and planning among serving RCMP than among the general population and cadets, and very low levels of suicidal thoughts and behaviour among cadets. Previous study has also shown cadet mental health to be very good. The increased rates of suicidal thought and behaviour reported by serving RCMP members seems to suggest occupational stressors have a great impact on their mental health. This is why understanding the prevalence of suicidal ideation and behaviour among cadets at the point they begin training is so important. From here, further research can better understand when negative changes to officers’ mental health are occurring and why.

Mental health and social support among Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets

Read The Full Article   Research summary Download Infographic

Mental health and social support among Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets

Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) are frequently exposed to potentially psychologically traumatic events and other occupational stressors that put them at increased risk for mental health challenges. Social support is a crucial factor in the protection of good mental health. Yet little is known about the relationship between social support and mental health disorder symptoms among cadets. The current study provides initial estimates of social support cadets experience when starting the Cadet Training Program. The results help clarify how social support might change during RCMP careers and how the changes might influence their mental health. Cadets reported social support comparable to the general population, and higher than serving RCMP. Cadets who reported higher levels of social support were less likely to screen positive for mental health disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder. The results suggest social support among RCMP decreases during service, increasing their risk for mental health challenges. The results support recommendations that cadets and RCMP may benefit from continually cultivating supportive social relationships to help protect their mental health.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Study: Protocol for a Prospective Investigation of Mental Health Risk and Resiliency Factors

Read The Full ArticleResearch summary Download Infographic

Focus on the Federal Framework for PTSD: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Longitudinal Study

Like all public safety personnel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members are exposed to traumatic events throughout their service, which can lead to posttraumatic stress injuries (PTSI). Many members suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other PTSI, and it is estimated that half are affected by mental health injury. Yet there has been little research available on how we can help protect the mental health of members. The 10-year RCMP Study is part of the effort to reduce the impacts of PTSI and improve members’ access to effective treatment. This paper describes how the RCMP Study will develop and test proactive skills taught to cadets to reduce the impact of PTSI. It will do this by assessing study participants before, during, and after their RCMP training, and then throughout their first five years of service. We expect the results of this large-scale study to provide insight for improving the mental health of RCMP and for all public safety personnel.