IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Among Police Officers and 911 Operators: A Cost-effectiveness Comparison Between the Standard Approach and an Innovative Approach


Police officers are at risk of developing some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study published by the IRSST revealed that 15% of police officers in Québec suffer or have suffered from post-traumatic stress. Data from the CNESST show that police officers and detectives are one of the most affected groups, with an average of 76 days of absence and disbursements of almost $1.4 million for 163 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.

While standard treatments are effective, they have significant disadvantages. Many patients stop using antidepressants because of their side effects. Psychotherapy works, but it is lengthy and costly.

The researchers propose to examine the expenditures related to a new approach to this disorder that will enable rapid treatment at a lower cost: the memory reconsolidation blockade, i.e., the ability to modify a memory when it is retrieved and reactivated, as an adjunct to standard treatment. This new type of treatment combines psychotherapy with medication (propranolol), and will accelerate the rehabilitation process and return to work, as it requires no more than six weeks of treatment. The expenses associated with care and loss of productivity will thus be reduced.

With this project, the researchers seek to estimate cost-effectiveness and cost-benefits in terms of the usefulness of standard treatment alone or accompanied by memory reconsolidation blockade, among police officers and 911 operators suffering from PTSD.

The study will provide evidence to encourage mental health service providers in Québec to add this approach to their treatment plans, without abandoning the traditional treatment modalities of psychotherapy and medication.