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Abstract

Background: Emergency dispatchers serve as a unique population to examine the impact of exposure to trauma given their continuous indirect exposure to stressful and traumatic calls. Furthermore, the unique experiences of emergency dispatchers warrants consideration of preventative measures to mitigate the negative outcomes associated with the job.

Methods: Due to the continuous stress and exposure to trauma, present perceived control is offered as a variable of interest. Present perceived control (PPC) is examined in two studies by the present researchers in relation to quality of life, exposure to traumatic events, and symptoms of PTSD.

Results: Results of study one indicate quality of life corresponded with and predicted more secondary traumatic stress, and PPC corresponded with and predicted less secondary traumatic stress. In contrast to the offered hypothesis, PPC did not buffer the effects of stress or increase quality of life. In response, the researchers assessed if PPC serves as a buffer against additional life stressors on symptoms of PTSD. Study two revealed more exposure to traumatic life events corresponded to increased PTSD symptom severity, and more PPC corresponded to lower PTSD symptom severity. Further PPC was identified as a significant moderator of the relationship between stressors and PTSD symptom severity.

Conclusions: Both studies shed light on the potential usefulness of incorporating mindfulness-based prevention among emergency dispatchers. By focusing on what dispatchers can control during 911 calls, the impact of exposure to trauma on quality of life and symptoms of PTSD may be alleviated.

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