Title

Sleep Deprivation and the Health of Firefighters

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2018

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Courtney Wells

Abstract

As public safety workers, the wellbeing of firefighters is of concern to the entire community. One of the primary work-related health issues facing firefighters is sleep deprivation, which can contribute to an array of health problems, including: mental illness, metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this exploratory, quantitative research study was to gather preliminary data regarding the health of professional firefighters, with a focus on sleep. Data was collected from several Midwestern, metropolitan fire departments via an online survey. Sleep-deprived participants were identified using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), as well as self-reports of average sleep onset latency, and hours of sleep achieved on-duty/off-duty. Firefighters’ ESS score groups were found to be significantly related to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and their company assignments. Older firefighters were found to have higher ESS scores than younger firefighters. Between-groups analysis identified those who were assigned to Medic Units as having the highest ESS scores and rates of cardiovascular disease. Firefighters reported fewer mental health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) diagnoses than the general population. While firefighters value and attend to their physical health and fitness, stigmas are still prevalent in the fire service that may be standing in the way of their recognizing and treating various behavioral health problems. Future studies should examine the ways that social workers could use physiological health topics, like sleep, as a means for addressing more stigmatized mental health issues in the fire service.

Keywords

firefighters, sleep, sleep deprivation, fire service, sleep health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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