Associate professor Dr. Jim Burch, a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has won an $800,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to study atypical work hours and adaptation among law enforcement employees.
Dr. Burch will work with Dr. John Violanti, a police stress expert at the University of Buffalo (The State University of New York), as co-principal investigators to examine shiftwork adaptation and health in the context of law enforcement. Together, the researchers will determine whether shiftwork, overtime hours or secondary jobs predict adverse changes in metabolic, neurological, epigenetic and immune health indicators. They will also survey officers to better understand their strategies for adapting to the challenges of shiftwork, overtime, etc. Using this information, the researchers will identify beneficial and detrimental adaptation approaches among the participants in order to develop recommendations for adapting to atypical work hours and other work factors that impact those health indicators over time.
“Law enforcement personnel serve a vital role by maintaining safety and order, yet they suffer disproportionately from increased risks for cancer and other major chronic diseases,” Dr. Burch says. “Their irregular work hours can elicit stress-related pathophysiological effects so our goal with this study is to better understand the factors that predispose them to adverse health outcomes in order to develop effective disease prevention strategies for this high-risk population.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 31