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Keywords:

  • work–family;
  • social support;
  • burnout;
  • police stress

Abstract

This study aimed to test a path model in which work stress affects policewomen's functioning in their family environment through a component of burnout, emotional exhaustion. Work role stressors assessed were role ambiguity and role overload. Work based support from supervisors, but not colleagues, was predicted to reduce role stressors and emotional exhaustion, and improve perceptions of family functioning (cohesion and conflict). Data was collected via a mail out survey to all (1081) policewomen in an Australian state police service. Useable surveys were returned by 421 policewomen. Path analysis using LISREL 8.5 indicated a good fit to the model. Supervisor, but not coworker support reduced role stressors, which had a significant path to family cohesion and conflict, through emotional exhaustion. The findings suggest that a fruitful avenue of exploration of stress transmission to the family would be an examination of behaviours linked to emotional exhaustion. Additionally, interventions designed to reduce stress in policewomen should include supervisor training in social support. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.