Distress Tolerance and Psychological Resilience in First Responders
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First responders are regularly exposed to significant stress and trauma, which increases their risk for negative psychological outcomes. In general populations, distress tolerance has been shown to predict recovery after traumatic experiences. However, distress tolerance has not been well studied among first responders. Furthermore, there has been no research to date that has identified which types of distress tolerance (e.g., tolerance of anxiety, tolerance of anger, etc.) are key in promoting recovery. A simple regression found that overall, tolerance of negative emotions decreases the experience of post-traumatic stress symptoms (R2=.1143, F(1,46)=5.937, p<.05) and secondary traumatic stress symptoms (R2=.1141, F(1,46)=5.924, p<.05). A backward elimination of the subscales within the tolerance of negative emotions scale resulted in final models where tolerance of anger was the only significant predictor of PTSD symptoms (R2=.1688, F(1,46)=9.339, p<.01) and secondary-traumatic stress symptoms (R2=.1275, F(1,46)=6.721, p<.05). Results suggest the importance of distress tolerance, and specifically tolerance of anger, in promoting psychological resilience in first responders. Future studies should evaluate whether programs designed to increase anger tolerance can be used to improve psychological resilience among first responders.