Development, implementation and evaluation of fitness training and psychosocial interventions in wildland firefighting

Leduc, Caleb and Giga, Sabir and Fletcher, Ian (2020) Development, implementation and evaluation of fitness training and psychosocial interventions in wildland firefighting. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Interventions are the critical mechanism through which research can be translated into practice for the improvement of employee health and well-being. The Job DemandsResources (JD-R) Theory has emerged as a popular theory of occupational stress, with inherent flexibility, organization and structure for detecting and understanding both positive and negative antecedents of employee well-being and strain. Wildland fires are an increasing concern to both public safety and critical to their effective management is the safe work of highly trained wildland firefighters (WFFs) who routinely face extreme physical and psychological demands. The present research leverages the JD-R Theory and employs the RE-AIM Framework to implement and evaluate two resource-building intervention programs through an iterative participatory approach across a wildland fire season. Two hundred and thirty WFFs were randomly assigned by their work location to one of four experimental conditions: 1- control group; 2- fitness training intervention; 3-psychosocial education intervention; and 4- both interventions. Pre- and post-season assessments of job demands and resources, personal resources including physical fitness and psychological capital, work engagement and job stress allowed for a comprehensive documentation of WFFs baseline measurements, change over a fire season, and evaluation of intervention effectiveness. Results affirm WFFs’ high levels of job and personal resources and work engagement at the outset of a wildland fire season. The psychosocial education intervention was effective at buffering the impact of a wildland fire season on appraisals of psychosocial risk associated with job demands and resources, while the fitness training intervention demonstrated limited success at mitigating psychosocial factors. The combined intervention group reported significantly lower incidence rate of injury. Aspects of intervention reach, adoption, implementation and maintenance provide additional contextual information to strengthen interpretation of intervention effectiveness. Implications for theory, research and practice are discussed.

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Thesis (PhD)
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04 Dec 2020 16:50
Last Modified:
02 Jan 2024 00:03