Psychological distress and line-of-duty head injuries in firefighters.
BACKGROUND: Head injuries are common injury in the fire service; however, very little data exist on the risks this may pose to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in this high-risk population. AIMS: Our study aimed to compare levels of PTSD and depression symptoms in firefighters with a line-of-duty head injury, non-line-of-duty head injury and no head injury. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, we assessed current PTSD and depression symptoms as well as retrospective head injuries. RESULTS: Seventy-six per cent of the total sample reported at least one head injury in their lifetime. Depression symptoms were significantly more severe among firefighters with a line-of-duty head injury compared to those with no head injury, but not compared to those who sustained a non-line-of-duty head injury. Depression symptoms did not differ between firefighters with a non-line-of-duty head injury and those with no head injury. PTSD symptoms were significantly more severe among firefighters with a line-of-duty head injury compared to both firefighters with no head injury and those with a non-line-of-duty head injury. CONCLUSIONS: We found that firefighters who reported at least one line-of-duty head injury had significantly higher levels of PTSD and depression symptoms than firefighters who reported no head injuries. Our findings also suggest head injuries sustained outside of fire service could have less of an impact on the firefighter's PTSD symptom severity than head injuries that occur as a direct result of their job.
Strack, JE; Torres, VA; Pennington, ML; Cardenas, MN; Dupree, J; Meyer, EC; Dolan, S; Kruse, MI; Synett, SJ; Kimbrel, NA; Gulliver, SB
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