Occupational stress and musculoskeletal disorders in firefighters: the mediating effect of depression and job burnout

Amir Hossein Khoshakhlagh, Saleh Al Sulaie, Marziyeh Mirzahosseininejad, Saeid Yazdanirad, Rob Marc Orr, Fereydoon Laal*, Umesh Bamel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The firefighting profession carries a heightened risk of musculoskeletal disorders. A firefighter’s job is physically demanding and includes activities such as running, climbing, dragging, and lifting. Often, these tasks are unpredictable, performed in harsh environments, and have been found to cause psychological stress. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of occupational stress on work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) in firefighters. In addition, the mediating effects of depression and job burnout on proposed relationships were examined. Data informing this study were collected using a survey questionnaire. The survey questionnaire included the Beck Depression Inventory, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Maslach Burnout
Inventory, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Inventory (PCL), and the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire. Collected data were analyzed using structural equation modeling approach in AMOS. The results of the 2339 responding firefighters suggest that work related stress is positively related to WRMSDs in firefighters and can lead to musculoskeletal symptoms through four paths,
being emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment, CES-D total score, and depersonalization. Through depersonalization, job stress had the most significant impact on musculoskeletal symptoms (coefficient = 0.053). Furthermore, the results showed that post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) can affect musculoskeletal symptoms through ten paths, again through depersonalization, PTSD had the most significant impact on musculoskeletal symptoms (coefficient = 0.141). The results of this study suggest that organizations should design interventions and policies to prevent and manage occupational stress, depression, and job burnout to negate its undesired consequences on firefighters’ health (i.e. WRMSD).
Original languageEnglish
Article number4649
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2024

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