Posttraumatic stress, alcohol use, and alcohol use motives among firefighters: The role of distress tolerance. Academic Article uri icon


  • Firefighters represent a unique, vulnerable population at high risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology due to the high rates of occupational exposure to traumatic events. To inform specialized alcohol use interventions for firefighters, it is important to understand relevant malleable cognitive-affective factors related to PTSD and AUD symptoms. Distress tolerance (DT), defined as the perceived ability to withstand negative emotional states, is one promising factor relevant to this domain. The current study examined the moderating role of DT in the association of PTSD symptom severity with alcohol use severity and alcohol use motives. Participants included 652 trauma-exposed firefighters (93.3% male; Mage=38.7 years, SD=8.6) who endorsed lifetime (ever) alcohol use. Results indicated that there was a significant interactive effect of PTSD symptom severity and DT on coping-oriented alcohol use motives but not other alcohol-related outcomes. These findings were evident after adjusting for alcohol consumption, romantic relationship status, number of years in the fire service, occupational stress, and trauma load. This is the first study to concurrently examine these variables among firefighters and this line of inquiry has great potential to inform intervention efforts for this vulnerable, understudied population.

published proceedings

  • Psychiatry Res

altmetric score

  • 31.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Zegel, M., Tran, J. K., & Vujanovic, A. A.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Zegel, Maya||Tran, Jana K||Vujanovic, Anka A

publication date

  • December 2019