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Firefighters and traumatic stress: a review

Alex Fraess-Phillips (School of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia , Prince George, Canada)
Shannon Wagner (School of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia , Prince George, Canada)
R. Luke Harris (School of Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia , Prince George, Canada)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 2 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the literature with respect to traumatic stress in a firefighting context. The goal was to provide a clear and concise review intended for use by both researchers and practitioners. Firefighters are an under-researched group in the academic literature and updated review articles are necessary to advance this body of work.

Design/methodology/approach

Searches of the English language literature on firefighters and traumatic stress were completed and supplemented with a review of clinical information related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The search was comprehensive but was not guided by systematic review guidelines.

Findings

Research regarding firefighters and traumatic stress is limited and inconsistent in outcome. Much of the available literature supports a link between fire service work and increased post-traumatic symptomatology; however, some research has neglected to demonstrate a relationship for these factors. Some efforts such as the training of coping skills and team building may improve firefighters’ resilience to PTSD, while therapeutic and psychopharmacological treatments may be effective in reducing PTSD progression.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge, no previous paper is available that has specifically intended to address firefighters and traumatic stress in a review format for researchers and practitioners. In the authors’ experience, fire service members are eager for literature addressing their profession and presented in a manner accessible for both non-academic and academic audiences.

Keywords

Citation

Fraess-Phillips, A., Wagner, S. and Harris, R.L. (2017), "Firefighters and traumatic stress: a review", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 67-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-10-2016-0020

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited