Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences


Joe Tomaka


Firefighting is a hazardous occupation due to the nature of firefighting duties including frequent exposure to traumatic events. Firefighters have been shown to cope with stress by drinking alcohol (Bacharach, Bamberger, & Doveh, 2008). Indeed, studies of firefighters have found that roughly 30% report being problem drinkers (Boxer & Wild, 1993) and 47% of firefighters have a diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence (North, Tivis, McMillen, Pfefferbaum, Spitznagel et al., 2002). Despite high rates of alcohol use, most firefighters receive inadequate training regarding alcohol and other risky behaviors. Furthermore, fire departments rarely act proactively regarding problems like alcohol consumption.

The present study adapted two brief intervention approaches that have been widely used to reduce risks in college students, for use in a large sample of municipal firefighters. Thus, 740 firefighters participated in a single intervention session and completed follow up assessments 3-4 months later. Firefighters were assigned to one of three conditions: BASICS Psychoeducation + Personalized Normative Feedback (PNF), PNF alone, or Control. Measures of alcohol-related outcomes included alcohol risk levels, alcohol-related problems, and alcohol consumption patterns.

Two-way, 3 (Control, BASICS, & PNF) x 2 (time), between subjects ANOVAs suggested main effects for time such that alcohol risk levels (F = 10.88, p < .001) and alcohol-related problems (F = 7.03, p < .01) decreased significantly from intervention to follow up, and that this effect was uniform across all three conditions. Overall, the results suggest that firefighters are responsive to a variety of intervention strategies. Although the results failed to support the hypothesis that the brief interventions would be more effective than an educational control condition among firefighters, the results of this study are positive from a public health perspective. Specifically, the results suggest that a variety of brief interventions can significantly reduce alcohol-related outcomes four months following a single alcohol intervention. However, further research is needed to rule out alternative explanations for the observed pattern of results.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

160 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Stormy Miracle Monks