Relationship between sense of coherence and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among firefighters

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2000;13(4):299-305.


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is diagnosed when a person: (a) is exposed to a traumatic event that is well outside the range of usual human experience accompanied by intense fear or horror; (b) reexperiences the event in his/her thoughts, dreams and daily life; (c) avoids the stimuli associated with the trauma and numbs his/her emotions; (d) demonstrates symptoms of increased arousal; and (e) manifests these disturbances for a longer period than one month. Since the 1980s, it has been pointed out that PTSD may occur not only among survivors of severe traumatic events but also among those who have rescued the victims of those events. Members of fire brigades constitute a large occupational group exposed to traumatic experiences. The aim of our study was to find an answer to the question of what are the relationships between the level of PTSD symptoms and the sense of coherence (and its three dimensions). In all, 464 firemen were interviewed. PTSD-Interview developed by Watson et al. was used to assess the level of PTSD symptoms and the presence]absence of PTSD. The higher level of PTSD symptoms was associated with the lower level of the sense of coherence. A small group (3.9%) of subjects who experienced traumatic events met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for PTSD. The sense of coherence of these people was significantly lower than that of others.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Fires
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Occupational Health*
  • Personality*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic*