Quality of Life and Trauma in First Responders: Moderating Role of Self-Efficacy

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First responders are at increased risk for adverse mental health conditions (e.g., acute stress), possibly due to exposure to traumatic events; however, not all first responders exhibit symptoms to the same degree. Positive and negative attributes of working as a first responder (e.g., professional quality of life [QOL]) may contribute to vulnerability to or protection from distress. Additionally, beliefs about one’s ability to problem-solve and attain goals (e.g., self-efficacy) may ameliorate job-related difficulties and distress; this premise has not been tested. We examined the relations between professional QOL, self-efficacy, and acute stress in first responders. At the bivariate level, we hypothesized that self-efficacy and compassion satisfaction would be inversely related to acute stress, and burnout and secondary traumatic stress would be positively related to acute stress. At the multivariate level, three hypotheses were made: (1) higher selfefficacy would predict lower acute stress; (2) each professional QOL subscale would predict acute stress, such that higher compassion satisfaction would predict lower acute stress and higher secondary traumatic stress and burnout would predict greater acute stress; and, (3) self-efficacy would moderate the relation between each professional QOL subscale and acute stress. Our sample of 170 first responders were primarily male (73%, n = 124) and White (89.4%, n = 151) with a mean age of 34.75 years (SD = 8.79). Participants were recruited via workplace email and completed self-report measures: General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL), and Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R; index of acute stress). In addition to bivariate analyses, we conducted multivariate regression analyses to examine the relation between QOL and trauma, and the moderating effect of self-efficacy. At the bivariate level, all correlations were as predicted. At the multivariate level, hypotheses were partially supported. Self-efficacy, compassion satisfaction, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout all significantly predicted acute stress. Self-efficacy significantly moderated the relation between compassion satisfaction and acute stress, β = 0.12, p = .03, accounting for a significant increase in the variance in acute stress, ΔR 2 = .03, F (1, 148) = 4.80, p = .03. However, self-efficacy did not moderate in other models. Better professional QOL and self-efficacy were related to acute stress in first responders. Further, the relation between compassion satisfaction and acute stress was dependent on level of self-efficacy; with greater competence, the beneficial relation between compassion satisfaction and distress, is strengthened. Therapeutically addressing professional QOL, specifically secondary traumatic events, and increasing self-efficacy (e.g., via Cognitive Behavioral Therapies), may reduce risk for adverse stress reactions in first responders.


Johnson City, TN

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