Profiling and predicting help-seeking behaviour among trauma-exposed UK firefighters

T. Tamrakar, J. Langtry, M. Shevlin, T. Reid, J. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Firefighters often do not avail of psychological support services within fire services.  Hence, investigating help-seeking behaviour is crucial to determine viable support options.

Objective: This study attempted to characterize help-seeking behaviour among UK firefighters by profiling and identifying patterns of help-seeking.

Methods: An online survey was administered to 1282 UK firefighters who were asked which helpseeking options they availed of within and outside professional settings. The analysis was conducted in two linked phases. First, latent class analysis was used to identify the fewest profiles that most accurately described help-seeking behaviour. Second, multinomial logistic regression analysis was employed to describe class composition using demographic and years in service variables, while ANOVA was employed to identify variation in alcohol consumption and openness to discussing emotions across help-seeking classes.

Results: Five distinct help-seeking classes were identified. Class 1 (9.2%) represented firefighters who availed of all forms of support. Class 2, the smallest class (6.9%) represented firefighters who independently sought External Professional Psychological Support. Class 3 (12.2%) represented those who mainly sought Friends Support. Class 4, the largest class (48.7%) represented those who mainly sought Spousal Support. Class 5 (23%) represented firefighters who sought all avenues of Social Support. Regression analyses indicated that the External Psychological Support class was more likely to be single with fewer years in service.  Firefighters longest in service were less likely to seek Social Support, and those who relied on Spousal support had the lowest alcohol consumption.

Conclusion: Variations in help-seeking behaviour among UK firefighters were found.  Firefighters who sought spousal support had the lowest alcohol consumption rates, indicating a protected profile. Firefighters who only sought friends and informal colleagues’ support had the highest alcohol consumption rates and the most difficulty in discussing feelings, indicating a potential at-risk profile. Recognizing these differences in help-seeking patterns is important for targeting interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1721144
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Early online date17 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2020


  • Firefighters
  • help-seeking
  • trauma
  • emergency personnel
  • first responder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • crisis intervention
  • social support
  • spouse support


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