International Journal of Stress Management

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 223–237 | Cite as

Work and nonwork stressors, negative affective states, and pain complaints among firefighters and paramedics

  • Randal Beaton
  • Shirley Murphy
  • Kenneth Pike


Prior research has suggested that occupational stressors may contribute to the etiology, progression, and chronicity of pain problems in workers. This study used anonymous survey methods to assess the prevalence and frequency of self-reported pain symptoms and their relationships to demographic variables, sources of occupational stressors, nonwork stressors and affective distress in a large sample (N≈2000) of employed career public sector firefighters and paramedics. The findings were consistent with those of previous studies of high strain workers. More than 95% of the firefighter/paramedic sample reported at least one pain complaint (using a 1 week assessment time frame). A hierarchical multiple regression analysis entering demographic, occupational, and nonwork stressors, as well as measures of negative affective states targeting total pain scores, yielded significant relationships. Five occupational stressors were associated with respondent pain complaints. The results also suggest that negative affective states mediated the relationships between work and nonwork variables, and pain complaint outcomes. The implications of these findings for the development of preventive interventions for firefighters and paramedics as well as other emergency service workers are considered.

Key Words

Firefighter/paramedic occupational stressors pain complaints negative affective states high strain workers 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randal Beaton
    • 1
  • Shirley Murphy
    • 1
  • Kenneth Pike
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial and Community HealthSchool of Nursing, University of WashingtonSeattle

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