Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Courtney Wells


Social Work


As public safety workers, the wellbeing of firefighters is of concern to the entire community. One of the primary work-related health issues facing firefighters is sleep deprivation, which can contribute to an array of health problems, including: mental illness, metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this exploratory, quantitative research study was to gather preliminary data regarding the health of professional firefighters, with a focus on sleep. Data was collected from several Midwestern, metropolitan fire departments via an online survey. Sleep-deprived participants were identified using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), as well as self-reports of average sleep onset latency, and hours of sleep achieved on-duty/off-duty. Firefighters’ ESS score groups were found to be significantly related to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and their company assignments. Older firefighters were found to have higher ESS scores than younger firefighters. Between-groups analysis identified those who were assigned to Medic Units as having the highest ESS scores and rates of cardiovascular disease. Firefighters reported fewer mental health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) diagnoses than the general population. While firefighters value and attend to their physical health and fitness, stigmas are still prevalent in the fire service that may be standing in the way of their recognizing and treating various behavioral health problems. Future studies should examine the ways that social workers could use physiological health topics, like sleep, as a means for addressing more stigmatized mental health issues in the fire service.

Included in

Social Work Commons