Greenhorn protective services workers at higher risk for mental disorders when exposed to traumatic events

New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that protective services workers, such as firefighters and police officers, who are new to their careers are more vulnerable to developing a mental health or alcohol use disorder when they are exposed to traumatic events.

Additionally, the researchers discovered that protective services workers who were more experienced did not appear to have a higher prevalence of mental health problems than those in other occupations.

In a press release from Johns Hopkins, lead author of the study, Christopher N. Kaufmann, said:

“When we examined the relationship of exposure to common traumas with the development of mood, anxiety and alcohol use disorders among protective services workers, we found that these workers were at greater risk for developing a mood or alcohol use disorder. … Developing curricula in coping skills and providing timely interventions for early career protective services workers may help reduce future psychiatric morbidity in these workers.”

The findings are based on data from the U.S. National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The study, “Mental Health of Protective Services Workers: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions,” appears in the February 2013 issue of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.