Stress spillover in policing and negative relationship functioning for law enforcement marriages

Brooke Mc Querrey Tuttle, Zachary Giano, Michael J. Merten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The nature of police work includes toxic work environments and uncertain danger which imparts a unique type of occupational stress spillover or the transfer of stress from work life to home life for law enforcement officers. Work stress places officers at risk for negative health and psychosocial outcomes. While it has been shown that occupational stress can compromise the wellbeing of police officers, little is known about how spillover can effect other areas of life for officers such as marital relationships. This study investigates the association between work demands, emotional stress spillover, and marital functioning in a law enforcement sample. Data from 1,180 married law enforcement respondents to the Police Officer Questionnaire which included 148 items assessing work stress, health, family, and support were examined. Responses were analyzed using regression analyses. Results showed that career demands and emotional spillover were statistically significant predictors of the variance in marital functioning. Social and emotional spillover of work-related stress carries negative consequences for communication and emotion regulation within law enforcement marriages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-252
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Marital functioning
  • Occupational stress
  • Police stress
  • Relationships


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