Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology



First Advisor

Lee Cohen

Second Advisor

Michael Allen

Third Advisor

Alan M. Gross

Relational Format



Employee turnover is expensive, as job training can cost upwards of 30% of an employee’s annual salary (not including additional onboarding expenses; Boushey & Glynn, 2012). This is especially true among high stress, dangerous occupations that require specialized training such as firefighters (Envisage Technologies, 2016; Knoll, 2011; Patterson et al., 2010). Health status is a primary reason for job concerns that may lead to decline in job performance and employment separation (Hourani, Williams, & Kress, 2006; Virtanen, Kivimäki, Vahtera, Elovainio, Sund, Virtanen, & Ferrie, 2006). Two research areas that support this notion include literature on the biopsychosocial model and occupational stress. The purpose of the current study was twofold: 1) to assess pre-academy biopsychosocial factors that may predict positive health outcomes among firefighters after 3 years of service, and 2) to determine the impact of occupational stress on health status over time. Results indicate that social support from family, number of family mental health diagnoses, depression symptoms and occupational stress were the most salient predictors of total health in the third year of fire service. By pinpointing these markers of vulnerability early in a high-risk, high-stress career, investigators aim to enhance future training and prevention efforts for those in particularly dangerous occupations. Specifically, these findings highlight potentially useful domains to help identify those who may be “at-risk” as well as areas that may be targets for early intervention.



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