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Occupational Stressors, Stress Responses, and Alcohol Consumption Among Professional Firefighters: A Prospective, Longitudinal Analysis

Abstract

This dual-site longitudinal prospective study monitored and measured change in self-reported occupational stressors, emotional trauma, symptoms of stress, and alcohol consumption in urban firefighters. Study participants were 188 firefighters employed by two urban fire departments. The results showed that of 19 occupational stressors examined, only 5 (26%) changed significantly over time, and of those 5, only two—job skill concerns and concerns regarding reduction in force and benefits—decreased, reflecting less bothersome subjective ratings. Of the 12 measures of posttraumatic and other symptoms of stress, 9 (75%) increased significantly over time and none decreased significantly, whereas alcohol consumption was stable over time. Job stressors, trauma caseness, and stress response symptoms at baseline were strongly and significantly associated with the same measures at the two-year follow-up. The implications of the findings for prevention and remediation of stress disorders in fire service personnel are considered. It can be concluded that the stressful nature of urban firefighting is significantly associated with negative health outcomes, including the potential overreliance on alcohol use.

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Correspondence to Shirley A. Murphy.

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Murphy, S.A., Beaton, R.D., Pike, K.C. et al. Occupational Stressors, Stress Responses, and Alcohol Consumption Among Professional Firefighters: A Prospective, Longitudinal Analysis. International Journal of Stress Management 6, 179–196 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021934725246

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021934725246

  • professional urban firefighting
  • occupational stressors and stress responses
  • stress responses of urban firefighters