By Victoria Colliver
A study of Bay Area and New York police academy recruits by researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, UCSF and New York University is considered one of the first and largest studies to look at biological stress indicators before and after traumatic events.
“This study is unique because it looks at people before they’ve actually been exposed to trauma,” said lead author Sabra Inslicht, a psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF.
Nearly 300 academy recruits took samples of the waking levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. The results, published in last month’s issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, found that recruits with higher cortisol levels shortly after waking up in the morning were most likely to have stressful reactions to trauma years later as police officers.