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Purpose – This study aims to investigate critical differences between police officer willingness to use and recommend an employee assistance program (EAP) to a peer, including the relationship between officer perceptions of macro-level organizational support and micro-level EAP support.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey of 213 police officers from a large, urban police department in the Northeast United States of America is used to evaluate the relationship between officer perceptions of the EAP and the officers’ willingness to use and recommend the EAP to peers. Generalized linear regression models are used to evaluate the moderating effect of perceived organizational support (POS) on perceived EAP support.

Findings – The findings of this study suggest that POS strongly predicts willingness to use the EAP, but POS has no significant relationship with willingness to recommend the EAP. There is evidence that POS moderates the relationship of EAP support on willingness to recommend the EAP to a peer. When POS decreases, the relationship of EAP support with willingness to recommend the EAP to peers becomes stronger.

Research limitations/implications – The current study is limited by the study’s focus on only one police department and the department’s use of cross-sectional data, which may limit the generalizability of the results to agencies that differ in size and type.

Practical implications – This research has practical implications for those who seek to improve officer receptivity to mental health support and improve the quality of police services provided to the public. The findings demonstrate that improving officer willingness to recommend the EAP to peers may be a more sustainable pathway to addressing officer mental health than willingness to use the EAP considering the current movement toward police reform.

Originality/value – The research unveils significant differences in police officer decision-making between using the EAP and recommending it to a peer. The research also adds empirical evidence to existing research on the role of POS in policing and the altruistic, peer-focused nature of the police subculture.


Citation: Quick, K.M. (2023), "Helping the helpers: the role of organizational support and peer influence on police officer receptivity to employee assistance programs", Policing: An International Journal. DOI: 10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2022-0097

This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) license. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution.



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