Date of Conferral







Lisa Scharff


Firefighters experience stressful job demands. Many of them work in shifts that can extend to 96-hour rotations. Firefighters also tend to suffer from poor sleep quality and psychological distress; however, there are conflicting findings on how these factors may relate to each other. The purpose of this quantitative survey study was to examine the relation between symptoms of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol abuse to shift duration in firefighters who work 24-hour shifts compared to those who work 48-hour shifts, with sleep quality as a mediating variable. The repair and restoration theory of sleep was the theoretical framework. One hundred forty-three adult firefighters employed in the midwestern region of the United States completed a demographic questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and the Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire using an online survey to help ensure anonymity. The results of a multivariate analysis of covariance indicated that anxiety [F (1, 140) = 4.042, p = .042; F (1, 140) = 4.521, p = .035] and alcohol abuse [F (1, 140) = 12.497, p = .001; F (1, 140) = 12.686, p =.001] were both significantly related to shift duration before and after controlling for sleep quality, with individuals in the longer shifts reporting more distress. PTSD was not significantly different between the groups; however, a trend emerged for longer shifts to be related to more distress after controlling for sleep quality. The findings of this research may be used to promote social change by improving the lives of firefighters and the communities they serve, as well as educating decision makers with information needed to address potential mental health burdens of shiftwork in this population.