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An evaluation of firefighter sleep quality

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mari-Amanda Dyal, PhD, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Todd D. Smith, PhD, CSP, Occupational Safety Management Program, College of Aeronuatics, Dept of Aeronautics Graduate Studies, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL
David M. DeJoy, PhD, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, Workplace Health Group, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background and Objective(s)

Occupational stress, critical incident stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder have all been explored in relation to firefighter performance. Burnout, too, has been found to affect firefighter performance; however, no research to date explores the combined effects of occupational stress and burnout on firefighter sleep patterns, such as sleep quality, which can have detrimental effects on health and safety when compromised. The sleep quality application is interesting due to high volume and irregularity of requests, which interrupts sleep patterns while on duty.


A mediation model examined the direct and indirect effects of occupational stress and burnout on firefighter sleep quality within a fire department of 383 sworn personnel and an annual call volume of 25,000.


The model revealed that 1) occupational stress was positively associated with burnout (β = 0.6259, t(161) = 15.53, p < 0.001), 2) occupational stress was negatively associated with sleep quality (β = -0.3206, t(161) = -5.47, p < 0.001), and 3) burnout was negatively associated with sleep quality (β = -0.4704, t(161) = -4.29, p< 0.001). The final direct path between occupational stress and sleep quality did not retain significance, and burnout was found to fully mediate the relationship.


Sleep-related factors are of great concern for the fire service, especially when health and safety implications can be life-threatening. The combined effect of occupational stress and burnout has established that sleep quality is at risk, and next steps involve research and practice aimed at risk reduction.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the importance of firefighter sleep quality as it relates to occupational stress and burnout.

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Workplace

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a post-doctoral research associate on the grant that funded this work, and I am charged with dissemination activities that include but are not limited to authoring conference abstracts.
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.

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