Post traumatic stress and its impact on the lives of firefighters is under-investigated. Little has been written about the effects of chronic stress and even less on the profession of firefighting and traumatic stress. While coping has been studied over the years, investigation of spiritual and religious coping is sparse in the psychological literature leaving a gap, despite the fact that research and medical literature has found a relationship between religious and spiritual coping and mental and physical health. Most of what has been documented in reference to firefighter training focuses on the physical requirements without assessing the psychological stability of future firefighters to cope with the impact of severe emotional trauma. Firefighters are an important group to study when investigating trauma due to their apparent ability to cope with chronic stress. Their lives and professional challenges raise the question of resilience and why some individuals are better able to cope than others. This study attempted to bring these important concepts together in the hopes of determining whether firefighters who have religious and/or spiritual beliefs report fewer symptoms of trauma.
The present investigation was a correlational study of the relationship type. The data were gathered from one urban firefighting population and analyzed using bivariate correlations, multiple regression, and a correlational matrix. Sixty participants were recruited from one fire department in Massachusetts. Assessment included: a Demographic Questionnaire, the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, the PTSD Screening and Diagnostic Scale, the and the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness and Spirituality. The results revealed that spirituality does not act as a protective factor in the reduction of trauma symptoms, thus the original assumption was not entirely supported by the data. However, it was revealed that the number of traumatic events experienced was a predictor for spiritual beliefs suggesting that the firefighters may have experienced post traumatic growth. Post traumatic growth is defined as positive changes that occur post trauma in the domains of self-perception, interspersonal relationships, philosophy of life, and spiritual development. Above all, the change in philosophy of life involves a deepening existential, spiritual, or religious dimension.
|Commitee:||Baker, Sharon, Podbelski, Jana|
|School:||Union Institute and University|
|School Location:||United States -- Ohio|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, Clinical psychology, Occupational psychology, Spirituality|
|Keywords:||Coping, Emergency services, Firefighters, Organizational stress, Religious beliefs, Spiritual beliefs, Trauma|
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