Study on operational stress injury trajectory among firefighters
The practice of the firefighter profession makes it common for these workers to be repeatedly exposed to potentially traumatic events over the course of their careers, such as seeing grievously injured people. This repeated exposure increases this population’s risk of developing operational stress injuries, namely post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety disorders. A previous study by the Trauma Studies Center found that a third of these workers had a probable diagnosis for at least one of the three previously named conditions.
Although this statistic indicates the existence of problems among firefighters, it was only measured at a single point in time. Therefore, one cannot determine what preceded the operational stress injuries documented in the study nor how the mental health of these workers evolved after the measure was taken. In this context, it becomes difficult to know with which of these workers to intervene when a traumatic event occurs.
In order to fill this gap in knowledge, the Trauma Studies Center will conduct a study with firefighters. This study will take repeated measures over a three month period. These measures will be concerned with participants’ well-being, operational stress injury symptoms, and risk and protection factors to these injuries.
The results of this study will allow us to deepen our understanding of operational stress injury trajectory: the use of repeated measures will allow us to better understand how certain factors are associated with operational stress injuries and worsening symptoms as well as resilience to them. It will therefore be possible to better predict which workers are more at risk to develop operational stress injuries. Consequently, it will be possible to better monitor vulnerable workers, thereby allowing for more rapid care, thereby preventing a degradation of their condition.