Stress in firefighters: situations, reactions and interactions

Docherty, Robert Walker (1992). Stress in firefighters: situations, reactions and interactions. PhD thesis The Open University.



A series of studies were carried out to determine how experience and training in firefighters affected their reactions to situations they encountered at work.

The first three studies used quantitative and qualitative techniques to identify those situations which firefighters found to be significant to them in terms of varying stressfulness. One of these studies sampled firefighters who attended the Manchester Air Disaster.

The final two studies used the situations identified by the initial studies and extended the methodology of Payne, Fineman & Jackson (1982) in the development of a measure of work anxiety within a paradigm of interaction between situations and individual reactions.

Evidence for the interactionist position was found in both studies although subject's reactions to situations seemed to be situationally driven. Strength of reactions to situations did reduce over time due to training, experience, occupational group homogeneity and the learning of coping strategies.

As a result of these studies an extended model of the interactionist position was proposed as well as some suggestions for future research.

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