Firefighters are continually tasked to incidents where they are likely to experience scenes that place them at a higher risk of developing psychological disorders related to stress. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis showed that emergency service workers are at a greater risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population and continued exposure to stressful experiences at work increase the likelihood of developing PTSD (Milligan-Saville et al., 2018). There is also a lot of variation in the availability of psychological support that is available to fire fighters at an organisational level, and there are different psychological explanations that have tried to describe the factors that facilitate or hinder help-seeking (Kim et al, 2018). To date, the assessment of PTSD in firefighters has been based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual produced by the American Psychiatric Association. Recently, a new formulation of PTSD was adopted by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
This new formulation of PTSD also included a ‘sibling’ disorder, Complex PTSD (CPTSD). CPTSD has all the core symptoms of PTSD but also includes clusters of symptoms representing ‘disturbances in self-organization' (DSO). These disturbances include affective dysregulation, negative self-concept and disturbed relationships. The DSO symptom clusters are intended to capture the pervasive psychological disturbances that typically arise following exposure to multiple and repeated traumas.
To date there has been no assessment of PTSD and CPTSD in firefighters. This project aims to
(1) assess the level of ICD-11 posttraumatic stress severity in a large sample of UK fire fighters,
(2) describe the rates and frequency of exposure to different stressful work-related events,
(3) estimate the relationship between stress exposure and posttraumatic stress severity, and determine if this is moderated by employment related factors (e.g. length of service, previous experiences etc),
(4) evaluate the provision and up-take of mental health support services, and determine how these vary across UK brigades, and
(5) assess whether posttraumatic stress severity differs depending on provision and up-take of mental health support services.
This project will use data from a large survey of UK fire fighters (N=1200) that was collected by John Langtry OBE, an ex-fire fighter who started this study but passed away before the project could be completed. It will be expected that that the successful candidate will also work closely with the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade Union to ensure that the findings are used to improve the psychological well-being of fire fighters.
Kim, J. E., Dager, S. R., Jeong, H. S., Ma, J., Park, S., Kim, J., ... & Cho, H. B. (2018). Firefighters, posttraumatic stress disorder, and barriers to treatment: Results from a nationwide total population survey. PloS one, 13(1), e0190630.
Milligan-Saville, J., Choi, I., Deady, M., Scott, P., Tan, L., Calvo, R. A., ... & Harvey, S. B. (2018). The impact of trauma exposure on the development of PTSD and psychological distress in a volunteer fire service. Psychiatry research, 270, 1110-1115.
If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.
The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:
Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).
This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).
This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).
This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.
Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies
Institute of Mental Health Sciences
Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.
Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health SciencesWatch Video
Monday 18 February 2019
Between 11 to 29 March 2019
Our coastal and riverside campus focussing on science and health
When applying for this PhD opportunity please quote reference number: