Abstract: WITHDRAWN: The Experienced and Predicted Anxiety Among Black Americans Who Encountered the Police (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

WITHDRAWN: The Experienced and Predicted Anxiety Among Black Americans Who Encountered the Police

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Archives, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Dasha Rhodes, PhD, Graduated PhD Student, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Laurens Van Sluytman, PhD, Associate Professor/Assistant Dean, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Paul Archibald, DrPH, Assistant Professor, CUNY College of Staten Island, NY
Background and Purpose: Within recent years the nation has witnessed police killings that disproportionately affect Black Americans. Approximately a quarter of police-involved fatalities involve a Black person, with an overwhelming majority of individuals engaging in non-life-threatening behaviors. Literature discusses police brutality and high occurrences of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder among individuals who had previous contact with the police or the criminal justice system but failed to capture the anxiety experienced during a police encounter. Anxiety affects 40 million Americans and 1 in 4 Black Americans. Although limited research focuses on Black Americans’ anxiety, available data suggest that Black Americans experience more intense and chronic symptoms that impact functional impairment. Therefore, this study sought to examine anxiety rates among Americans, specifically Black Americans, who experienced a police encounter and their predicted anxiety for future encounters.

Methods: This study employed a cross sectional research design with non-probability online convenience sampling method that recruit 490 adults aged 18-64 across the nation between April and May 2020. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) short form was incorporated in a 46-item survey to measure participants’ anxiety, including their anxiety level (no to low, moderate, and high). The STAI was modified to consider their feelings during their last direct police encounter and their predicted anxiety during future encounters. Various analyses, including descriptive, analysis of variance, binary logistic, and multinomial logistic regression, were used to 1) determine the association between race and anxiety regarding a previous and predicted police encounter and 2) to determine which factors including age, sex, arrest history, anxiety history, education, and residence predicted anxiety during police encounters.

Results: An overwhelming majority of participants reported high anxiety. There was a significant association between race and anxiety for participants who experienced a direct police encounter and a predicted future encounter. Sex remained a significant predictor for high anxiety among those who experienced direct police contact, and sex and those with a history of anxiety were significant predictors for high anxiety in future police encounters. For instance, females were significant 1.7 to 2.0 times more likely to experience high anxiety than men.

Conclusion and Implications: Although most of the factors were not significant, the results support the need for interventions to promote health and well-being among individuals. The high anxiety reported preface the behaviors that are often associated with fear and anxiety among individuals who encounter the police. This knowledge can inform training protocols among police departments, such as how to engage with individuals and recognize behavioral responses resulting from anxiety. An additional implication includes social workers advocating for annual training among officers to identify mental and behavioral health issues and responses. Lastly, the contributions of this study enhance the literature since much of the research disregards the mental health of individuals during a police encounter. Further research is needed to understand the manifestation of anxiety among various communities when in contact with the police to make a more informed and equitable decision when the police engage with individuals