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Mental Disorders in Firefighters Following Large-Scale Disaster

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 May 2020

Shannon L. Wagner
Affiliation:
University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BC
Nicole White
Affiliation:
University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BC
Christine Randall
Affiliation:
Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, Griffith University Gold Coast, QLD
Cheryl Regehr
Affiliation:
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Marc White
Affiliation:
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Lynn E. Alden
Affiliation:
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Nicholas Buys
Affiliation:
Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, Griffith University Gold Coast, QLD
Mary G. Carey
Affiliation:
University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
Wayne Corneil
Affiliation:
Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Trina Fyfe
Affiliation:
University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BC
Lynda R. Matthews
Affiliation:
The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Alex Fraess-Phillips
Affiliation:
University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BC
Elyssa Krutop
Affiliation:
Centre for Response-Based Care, Kamloops, BC, Canada
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Firefighting service is known to involve high rates of exposure to potentially traumatic situations, and research on mental health in firefighting populations is of critical importance in understanding the impact of occupational exposure. To date, the literature concerning prevalence of trauma-related mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has not distinguished between symptomology associated routine duty-related exposure and exposure to large-scale disaster. The present systematic review synthesizes a heterogeneous cross-national literature on large-scale disaster exposure in firefighters and provides support for the hypothesis that the prevalence of PTSD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorders are elevated in firefighters compared with rates observed in the general population. In addition, we conducted narrative synthesis concerning several commonly assessed predictive factors for disorder and found that sociodemographic factors appear to bear a weak relationship to mental disorder, while incident-related factors, such as severity and duration of disaster exposure, bear a stronger and more consistent relationship to the development of PTSD and depression in cross-national samples. Future work should expand on these preliminary findings to better understand the impact of disaster exposure in firefighting personnel.

Type
Systematic Review
Copyright
Copyright © 2020 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.

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