Beyond 'knee jerk' reaction: CISM as a health promotion construct

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Blaney, Leigh
This grounded theory research explores U.K. firefighter perceptions of stress and coping, and describes the outcomes firefighters see as evidence of successful coping. Results of this study reinforce outcomes of similar research with Canadian firefighters who also reported their levels of distress post-incident are decreased or mitigated through talking to others about their reactions and coping strategies. Both studies explicated social support, personal coping, and meaning-making as necessary components to firefighter coping, and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) as a vehicle to support firefighters in developing and maintaining those strategies. This study confirms that CISM ‘works’, not because it is a medical intervention but because it is a health promotion concept embedded in the culture and coping of the fire service. Health promotion philosophy and practice are explicated, and implications of a health promotion model for firefighter stress are outlined.
This is a pre-copyedited, author produced version of an article published as: Blaney, L. (2009). "Beyond 'knee jerk' reaction: CISM as a health promotion construct." The Irish Journal of Psychology, (30)1-2, 37-57. The Irish Journal of Psychology is available online at and this article is available at:
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