Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Biology




Carolyn Bentivegna


Law enforcement, Stress, Training


The highly stressful job of law enforcement personnel, rescue workers and soldiers requires them to constantly put to the test their previous training. In order too respond effectively under pressure, the training of these personnel must be preformed under conditions that elicit pressure. The research proposed in this thesis evaluates established training regimens for the degree of stressfulness instilled in trainees from physiological (hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis, autonomic nervous system) and psychological perspectives (anxiety). Subjects participating in SWAT and military training were recruited, as well as subjects having no prior SWAT or military training. Individual physiological stress responses measured included heart rate and salivary levels for cortisol, amylase, and dehydroepiandrosterone DHEA. Psychological assessment tools used which included the visual analog scale for stress levels to determine the subjects' perception of the stressfulness of the exercise, The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion was used to gather perceptions about how hard the body was working, and the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and Thayer's Activation and Deactivation Checklist (ADC) were used to determine the level of anxiety of the subjects. When the data of all trained subjects having prior SW AT and military training was pooled together significant correlations where found in DHEA vs Cortisol, as well as DHEA/Cortisol ratios vs Calmness. In contrast these correlations were not significant in the data of the subjects having no prior training recruited during a disaster drill. Furthermore the response elicited by subjects performing the same drills varied greatly, including their DHEA/cortisol ratios. A possible recommendation that may be deduced from this research is that more surprise elements should be introduced into the training drills so as to make the training more effective for live chaotic situations since there was such a vast differences in responses and some subjects did not show any change in their salivary levels substances from the baseline both during and after the exercises were performed.