Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Paul E. Spector, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tammy D. Allen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael D. Coovert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas E. Bernard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen Salomon, Ph.D.


emotion regulation, trauma, emergency medical services, PTSD


Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals are consistently exposed to a variety of traumatic events on the job, such as cases that involve the death or injury of a patient, being physically threatened, or encountering a mass casualty incident. Not surprisingly, research has found that such traumatic exposure has major implications, as it has been related to a plethora of negative strain outcomes such as posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms and burnout. However, at this point, research has not empirically examined the mechanisms by which these traumatic events lead to strain. Therefore, this study aims to further investigate these mechanisms by incorporating the role that emotion regulation (i.e., expressive suppression) plays in this process. Further, this study investigates various moderators in this process, including one individual difference factor (i.e., implicit theories about emotion expression) and two contextual factors (i.e., social support and organizational constraints).

To test the links in the aforementioned process, a weekly diary study was conducted online with 200 current EMS professionals. Specifically, participants completed a baseline survey (Time 0) that measured trait-level variables and demographics. Then, participants completed 10 weekly diary studies that included measures of exposure to traumatic events, negative affective reactions, expressive suppression, and strain outcomes. Multilevel structural equation modeling was used to test the study hypotheses.

Results of this study show that within person, traumatic event exposure was related to strain. Further, although traumatic event exposure was not consistently related to expressive suppression, the positive link between expressive suppression and strain was consistent. Additionally, organizational constraints were found to serve as a moderator in the relationship between expressive suppression and strain, such that higher organizational constraints exacerbate this relationship. Overall, these results provide a better understanding of the process that links traumatic event exposure to strain in the EMS profession. This research has implications for organizations, as it examines various factors that may be addressed in order to ensure that EMS professionals are better equipped to deal with these unfortunate exposures. Ultimately, the results of this study will hopefully prove helpful in devising interventions to enhance the wellbeing of EMS professionals in the wake of exposure to traumatic events.

Included in

Psychology Commons