Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 51–62 | Cite as

Posttraumatic stress reactions in volunteer firefighters

  • Richard A. Bryant
  • Allison G. Harvey


Volunteer firefighters in NSW were surveyed for experiences of posttraumatic stress. Firefighters were asked to describe their experiences of stress and indices were obtained of psychological disturbance. Findings indicated that most firefighters felt that their safety had been threatened. One-quarter of firefighters indicated that they experienced significant levels of posttraumatic stress, although many respondents attributed their stress to personal events. Posttraumatic stress was associated with multiple and recent critical incidents. Findings are discussed in terms of etiological factors of posttraumatic stress and the need for appropriate intervention.

Key words

posttraumatic stress trauma bushfire disaster 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Psychiatric Association (1994).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Atkeson, B. M., Calhoun, K. S., Resick, P. A., & Ellis, E. M. (1982). Victims of rape: Repeated assessment of depressive symptoms.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50 96–102.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bryant, R. A., & Harvey, A. G. (1995). Posttraumatic stress in volunteer firefighters: Predictors of distress.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183 267–271.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Creamer, M., Burgess, P., & Pattison, P. (1992). Reaction to trauma: A cognitive processing model.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101 452–459.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Davidson, J. R. T., & Foa, E. B. (1991). Diagnostic issues in posttraumatic stress disorder: Considerations for the DSM-IV.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100 346–355.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Ersland, S., Weisaeth, L., & Sund, A. (1989). The stress upon rescuers involved in an oil rig disaster. “Alexander L. Kielland” 1980.Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia, 355 38–49.Google Scholar
  7. Foa, E. B., Steketee, G., & Rothbaum, B. O. (1989). Behavioral-cognitive conceptualizations of posttraumatic stress disorder.Behavior Therapy, 20 155–176.Google Scholar
  8. Goldberg, D. P. (1972).The detection of psychiatric illness by questionnaire. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Frye, S., & Stockton, R. (1982). Discriminant analysis of posttraumatic stress disorder among a group of Vietnam veterans.American Journal of Psychiatry, 145 1289–1291.Google Scholar
  10. Green, B. L. (1993a). Identifying survivors at risk: Trauma and stressors across events. In J. P. Wilson, & B. Raphael (Eds.),International handbook of traumatic stress syndromes (pp. 135–144). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  11. Green, B. L. (1993b). Disasters and posttraumatic stress disorder. In J. R. T. Davidson & E. B. Foa (Eds.),Posttraumatic stress disorder: DSM-IV and beyond (pp. 75–97). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  12. Green, B. L., Grace, M. C., Gleser, G. C. (1985). Identifying survivors at risk: Long-term impairment following the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53 672–678.Google Scholar
  13. Green, M. A., & Berlin, M. A. (1987). Five psychosocial variables related to the existence of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43 643–649.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Henderson, S., Byrne, D. G., & Duncan-Jones, P. (1981).Neurosis and the social environment. Academic Press: Australia.Google Scholar
  15. Horowitz, M. J., Wilner, N., & Alvarez, W. (1979). The Impact of Event Scale: A measure of subjective stress.Psychosomatic Medicine, 41 209–218.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Jones, D. R. (1985). Secondary disaster victims: The emotional effects of recovering and identifying human remains.American Journal of Psychiatry, 142 303–307.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kahana, B., Harel, Z., & Kahana, E. (1988). Predictors of psychological well-being among survivors of the Holocaust. In J. P. Wilson, Z. Harel, & B. Kahana (Eds.),Human adaptation to extreme stress: From the Holocaust to Vietnam (pp. 171–192). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  18. Leon, G., Buthcher, J., Kleinman, M., Goldberg, A., & Almagot, M. (1981). Survivors of the Holocaust and their children: Current status and adjustment.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41 503–516.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. March, J. S. (1993). What constitutes a stressor? The “Criterion A” issue. In J. R. Davidson & E. B. Foa (Eds.),Posttraumatic stress disorder: DSM-IV and beyond (pp. 37–54). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  20. McCarroll, J. E., Ursano, R. J., Fullerton, C. S., & Lundy, A. L. (1993). Traumatic stress of a wartime mortuary: Anticipation of exposure to mass death.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 181 545–551.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. McFarlane, A. C. (1986). Posttraumatic morbidity of a disaster: A study of cases presenting for psychiatric treatment.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 174 4–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. McFarlane, A. C. (1988). The longitudinal course of posttraumatic morbidity: The range of outcomes and their predictors.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 176 30–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Mikulincer, M., & Solomon, Z. (1988). Attributional style and combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97 308–313.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Shore, J. H., Tatum, E. L., & Vollmer, W. M. (1986). The Mount St. Helens stress response syndrome. In J. H. Shore (Ed.),Disaster stress studies: New methods and findings (pp. 7–97). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  25. Smith, E. M., & North, C. S. (1993). Posttraumatic stress disorder in natural disasters and technological accidents. In J. P. Wilson, & B. Raphael (Eds.),International handbook of traumatic stress syndromes (pp. 405–419). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  26. Solomon, Z., Mikulincer, M., & Flum, H. (1988). Negative life events, coping responses, and combat-related psychopathology: A prospective study.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97 302–307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Speed, N., Engdahl, B., Schwartz, J., & Eberly, R. (1989). Posttraumatic stress disorder as a consequence of the POW experience.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177 147–153.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Weisaeth, L. (1989). A study of behavioral responses to an industrial disaster.Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia, 355 13–24.Google Scholar
  29. Zilberg, N. J., Weiss, D. S., & Horowitz, M. J. (1982). The Impact of Event Scale: A cross-validation study and some empirical evidence supporting a conceptual model of stress response syndromes.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50 407–414.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Bryant
    • 1
  • Allison G. Harvey
    • 2
  1. 1.University of New South Wales and Department of Medical PsychologyWestmead HospitalWestmeadAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Medical PsychologyWestmead HospitalWestmeadAustralia

Personalised recommendations