An interpretative phenomenological analysis of burnout among British police officers


  • Donna Louise Thomas



police burnout, value dissonance, policing culture, spiritual crisis


Burnout is defined as a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced efficacy (Maslach & Jackson, 1981). With burnout becoming increasingly prevalent within policing, this study aimed to expand awareness by exploring the lived experience of this syndrome for serving officers. Utilising a qualitative approach, data was derived from five participants using semi-structured interviews and an interpretative phenomenological methodology (IPA) for analysis. Six categories of themes emerged: perceived causes, personal impact factors, experiencing burnout, changed feelings and behaviour, the underlying meaning, and learning derived from the experience. Participants perceived organisational issues as the main cause of their burnout. They also described other aspects of their experience which contributed towards their long-term suffering. The relationship between burnout and spiritual crisis is discussed, an area rarely explored, but one that provides rich material for those focused on burnout research. It is hoped that this study will help inform work-based solutions and provide a platform for future investigation.




How to Cite

Thomas, D. L. (2022). An interpretative phenomenological analysis of burnout among British police officers. Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology, 3, 35–50.