What is it about?

Our survey of Canadian firefighters and paramedics found high levels of workplace violence and that experiencing violence was associated with having symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Further, the tendency to interpret violent events in maladaptive ways worsens their impact on mental health.

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Why is it important?

Workplace violence is a growing concern for firefighters and paramedics. Such violence represents a source of abuse and trauma separate from the well known forms of trauma associated with critical incidents. The present study revealed that paramedics and firefighters regularly experience high levels of violence in their work (e.g., physical attacks and threats of violence). The frequency of workplace violence was found to be associated with worsened mental health, in part as a result of maladaptive interpretations of the violence (e.g., catastrophizing). These findings suggest the importance of strategies to reduce the amount of workplace violence first responders encounter and better support their ability to process these experiences when they do occur in a healthy manner.


Discovering how much violence and abuse paramedics and firefighters encounter in their work was truly astonishing to me - I had no idea how significant it was. I already had a high opinion of them for the difficult and dangerous nature of their work and this only increased my appreciation for them. My hope is this article helps readers, including those in positions of authority, better appreciate the need to support first responders' mental health.

Ed Johnson
University of Manitoba

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Workplace violence and psychopathology in paramedics and firefighters: Mediated by posttraumatic cognitions., Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, July 2021, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/cbs0000240.
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