Psychological distress and alcohol use among fire fighters

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Few studies have investigated stressors to which fire fighters are subjected and the potential psychological consequences. One hundred and forty-five fire fighters were studied to enumerate potential occupational stressors, assess psychological distress and problems with alcohol use, and determine whether a relationship exists between these measures and self-reported stressors. Hearing that children are in a burning building was the highest ranked stressor. According to three self-report instruments, between 33 and 41% of the fire fighters were experiencing significant psychological distress, and 29% had possible or probable problems with alcohol use. These figures are significantly higher than would be expected in a typical community or working population. In a logistic regression analysis, no relationship was found between measures of psychological distress and alcohol use and the 10 most highly ranked work stressors.

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Boxer, P. A., & Wild, D. (1993). Psychological distress and alcohol use among fire fighters. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 19(2), 121–125.

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