Implications of the marital relationship as measured by interpersonal spousal support and marital satisfaction and first responder PTSD symptom severity: An online mixed methods approach



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First Responders are at risk for developing Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the nature of their job. Their chronic exposure to critical incidents must be met with adequate understanding and research of the unique factors surrounding the epidemiology and treatment of their PTSD experience. This study examined the relationship between first responder spousal support, relationship satisfaction, and PTSD symptom severity. More specifically this research looked at how the marital relationship might be a healing agent that buffers PTSD symptom severity. This study took place through an online platform, Psych Data, and a social media flyer on Facebook which recruited firefighters and police officers. A convergent mixed methods design allowed me to gather reliable quantitative data simultaneously with exploratory qualitative data. The quantitative findings suggest that interpersonal support and relationship satisfaction can predict PTSD symptom severity and even more specifically, relationship satisfaction and interpersonal support together can predict PTSD symptom severity more accurately. The qualitative analysis found that first responders viewed their relationship interpersonal support as helpful in processing work-related trauma by encouraging disclosure. It also supported the inverse relationship found in quantitative analysis, specifying that negative interpersonal support such as not understanding their job or trauma processing needs, exacerbated their work-related trauma experience.



First responder PTSD, Relationship Satisfaction, Interpersonal Support