Impact of police violence on mental health: A theoretical framework

Jordan DeVylder, Lisa Fedina, Bruce Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Police violence has increasingly been recognized as a public health concern in the United States, and accumulating evidence has shown police violence exposure to be linked to a broad range of health and mental health outcomes. These associations appear to extend beyond the typical associations between violence and mental health, and to be independent of the effects of co-occurring forms of trauma and violence exposure. However, there is no existing theoretical framework within which we may understand the unique contributions of police violence to mental health and illness. This article aims to identify potential factors that may distinguish police violence from other forms of violence and trauma exposure, and to explore the possibility that this unique combination of factors distinguishes police violence from related risk exposures. We identify 8 factors that may alter this relationship, including those that increase the likelihood of overall exposure, increase the psychological impact of police violence, and impede the possibility of coping or recovery from such exposures. On the basis of these factors, we propose a theoretical framework for the further study of police violence from a public mental health perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1704-1710
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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