Posttraumatic growth in firefighters

Sanderson, L., 2017. Posttraumatic growth in firefighters. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

The term posttraumatic growth is used to describe the experience of positive change that occurs as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life crisis (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004) and there is a growing body of literature that attests to this idea that adversity can lead to personal gain. Dominant models of growth suggest that experiencing a traumatic event can lead to the disruption of an individual's core beliefs, resulting in cognitive rumination, which in turn transforms into constructive processing thus initiating the development of posttraumatic growth (Cann et al, 2010). Various variables, such as personality, coping, resilience, age, sex and time have all been associated with posttraumatic growth, within the extant literature. The aim of the thesis was to address a gap in the existing literature by developing a model of posttraumatic growth within a critical occupation, the UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), thus allowing further investigation of the relationship of such variables to posttraumatic growth. This was achieved through a sequential mixed methods approach using two empirical studies. Study one used Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) to develop the model and study two tested the model using inferential statistics and structural equation modelling. The vast majority of participants in study two, (88%), experienced some degree of posttraumatic growth following exposure to work related traumatic incidents. In line with dominant models of growth, firefighters who experienced posttraumatic stress symptoms reported higher levels of posttraumatic growth. However, posttraumatic growth was also reported by firefighters who were not currently experiencing any symptoms of posttraumatic stress. There was a significant association between time since the traumatic event and posttraumatic growth but no differences in relation to participant's age or sex, which may be reflective of the unique culture of the FRS. Personality factors of extraversion and neuroticism were found to be significant predictors of posttraumatic growth as were five coping strategies; reinterpretation and growth, active coping, focus on and venting of emotions, mental disengagement and the use of emotional social support. The overall findings have both a theoretical and applied relevance as they contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of both the negative and positive effects that experiencing a traumatic incident can have on an individual and suggest possible interventions that could help firefighters perceive positive benefits from their work.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Sanderson, L.
Date: December 2017
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 21 Jun 2019 11:30
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2019 11:32
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/36892

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