254800 Stories to live by: Using narratives to promote occupational health and safety behaviors to firefighters

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lenette Golding, PhD, MPH , Child Health and Nutrition, CARE USA, Atlanta, GA
Karen King, PhD, MS , Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Influencing firefighters to alter their behavior in a way that reduces the risk of disease or injury, or increases the chance of health and well-being are important public health objectives. Finding an engaging and persuasive way to share knowledge is particularly valuable for adults involved in occupations that require a high level of knowledge to maintain health and safety. Narratives have exceptional power to persuade and affect peoples' decisions and research has shown that using stories related specifically to occupational health and safety can be effective at changing beliefs, attitudes and behavior. Nevertheless, fire service occupational health and safety training is often dominated by didactic instruction of facts and rules instead of narratives that reveal meanings and values in the context in which they are told. As adult learners, firefighters are less inclined to change their attitude by being told what to do or how to do it, but rather prefer to learn by the observation of human behavior. Thus, fire service occupational health and safety education might be more effective if it includes stories about critical situations that firefighters might confront while working on the fire ground and the appropriate responses to those situations. Data taken from a larger study provides information of the cognitive and emotional reactions narratives engender and insight that can possibly help those involved with occupational health and safety education develop narrative messages that are coherent, informative, memorable and ultimately persuasive.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Explain why narratives function as a powerful medium of learning, development, and transformation and discuss why fire departments should consider utilizing storytelling as one means to train their personnel.

Keywords: Occupational Health Programs, Health Education Strategies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This presentation contains information taken from a dissertation I completed as a doctoral candidate in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy degree from The University of Georgia.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.