Officers will participate in one guided session per week for two hours, focusing on a variety of practices including meditation, mindful movement (walking, yoga) and group discussions about practices and teachings. They will also be assigned practices to do in their own time outside of the group setting.
Previous studies relied on the ability of officers to recall stressful events some time after they occurred. The new study will capture real-time data from the field that are more closely linked to moment-to-moment stressful events officers experience on duty. Scientists will collect saliva samples to measure cortisol (a hormone linked to stress), sleep quality and heart rate data from fitness trackers, as well as information from daily questionnaires to test outcomes related to the intervention.
The team hopes to specifically learn how well-being practices like mindfulness meditation may affect sleep, cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors, and psychological health outcomes such as burnout, depression and anxiety symptoms.
With the inclusion of both university and county police departments, researchers can also assess similarities and differences among officers from different jurisdictions and populations.