90 percent of firefighters exhibit symptoms of PTSD: researchers

February 23, 2012

A new study on the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among firefighters in Israel indicates that approximately 90 percent show some form of full or partial symptoms.

According to the study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Dr. Marc Lougassi, a firefighter himself, 24 percent of active firefighters in Israel suffer from full PTSD, 67 percent display partial PTSD while only nine percent showed no symptoms.

PTSD can occur after exposure to serious injury to oneself or another, or another's death and then result in recurring such as nightmares, trouble sleeping and other difficulties for over a month.

According to Dr. Lougassi, "Professional firefighters are frequently exposed to during their work in emergency situations. In addition to the physical challenges of firefighting, they must evacuate burned and injured victims or bodies. Their involvement in traumatic events exposes them not only to the pressures stemming from the traumatic event itself, but also to post-traumatic that result in secondary traumatization."

"As far as Israeli firefighters are concerned, there has been no documented evidence of PTSD prevalence, despite the fact that they are exposed to additional traumas such as war and terror strikes," says Lougassi about the first of its kind study.

Approximately 342 active firefighters were recruited for this study, from all age groups, marital statuses (single, married, divorced), educational backgrounds, seniority levels (over two years), roles (firefighter, crew leader, officer, service commander, etc.). Firefighters with a psychiatric background, head injuries ( and neurological disturbances), in psychiatric and/or , with and those taking medications on a regular basis were excluded from the sample.

An additional 42 firefighters from flight firefighting services at Ben-Gurion Airport constituted the control group, since firefighters are not exposed to similar events. Only five percent of the control group showed signs of PTSD.

"These results support the hypothesis that increased exposure to recurring traumatizing events is a significant factor contributing to PTSD development," according to Lougassi.

"The findings of this study can help researchers and the Israeli Firefighting Service improve the firefighters' abilities to cope with extended exposure to traumatizing events through professional intervention programs," he suggests.

"Moreover, these results can help the Israeli Firefighting Services develop appropriate screening tools to be used during the recruiting process of new firefighters, in order to assure their future psychological safety."

Explore further: Reduced recognition of fear and sadness in post-traumatic stress disorder

Related Stories

9/11 leaves a legacy of psychiatric trauma, stress

August 29, 2011

The September 11 terror strikes left American psychiatrists a lasting legacy of unexpected size: thousands of people living and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, 10 years on.

Recommended for you

The birth of politics in children—the case of dominance

September 26, 2016

As they grow up, do children become young Robin Hoods? Depending on their age, they do not allocate resources in the same way between dominant and subordinate individuals. Thus a tendency towards egalitarianism develops and ...

Oxytocin enhances spirituality, new study says

September 21, 2016

Oxytocin has been dubbed the "love hormone" for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research from Duke University suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.

Study reveals a biological link between stress and obesity

September 21, 2016

Metabolic and anxiety-related disorders both pose a significant healthcare burden, and are in the spotlight of contemporary research and therapeutic efforts. Although intuitively we assume that these two phenomena overlap, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.