Younger, More Senior, and Most Vulnerable? Interaction Effects of Age and Job Seniority on Psychological Distress and Quality of Life Among Firefighters

Kah Kheng Goh, Susyan Jou, Mong Liang Lu, Li Chun Yeh, Yun Fan Kao, Chih Min Liu, Bo Lun Kan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Firefighters are exposed to repeated traumatic events while the robustness of cumulative effects of repeated exposure to trauma on psychological distress among them are inconsistent. Considering the length of service and seniority are risk factors, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the interaction between age and seniority on psychological distress and quality of life among firefighters. Methods: Participants were 229 firefighters of the Hualien County Fire Bureau in Taiwan who worked full time in response to emergency services and disaster rescues activities. Probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, and quality of life were assessed among firefighters using psychodiagnostics questionnaires. Firefighters were stratified based on age into a young and a mature group, and based on length of service into a junior and a senior group, yielding four groups: "young-senior," "young-junior," "mature-senior," and "mature-junior." Results: A majority of the firefighters were dissatisfied with their health condition. All the firefighters scored relatively lower at the social domain of their quality of life compared with physical, emotional, and environment domains. In the post hoc multiple comparison analysis, the young-senior firefighters were found to be most vulnerable to psychological distress, manifested in having a higher prevalence of, and suffering from more, severe probable PTSD, depression, anxiety, and agoraphobia symptoms than the other groups of firefighters. Conclusions: Age and job seniority have significant effects on psychological distress among firefighters. Being young and starting young to serve as a firefighter for a relatively long time is a significant risk factor for psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Firefighters
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • PTSD
  • Quality of life
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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