Date of Award

Summer 5-2019

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Advisor(s)

R. SUE DAY, MS, PHD

Second Advisor

LAURA S. MOORE, MED, RD, LD

Abstract

Greater health and fitness of volunteer firefighters protects them from cardiovascular disease-related deaths, reduces risk of injury, and improves job performance, which subsequently provides better protection for the majority of the U.S. population who is served by volunteers. Given the strong social support system characteristic of the U.S. fire service, there seems to be potential opportunity to influence the behaviors of firefighters by creating a culture that promotes healthy habits rather than unhealthy. Objective: Determine the association between fire department culture’s encouragement of physical activity and volunteer firefighters’ moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Methods: A cross sectional analysis was performed using baseline data from the cluster RCT The First Twenty for Volunteer Firefighters (TF20). Data was collected from a national sample of volunteer firefighters from 9 U.S. departments, including measurements of perceived peer and leadership support of physical activity and firefighters’ self-reported frequency of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity. Logistic regression analyses of perceived support and average minutes per week of physical activity were conducted and odds ratios interpreted at the 0.05 significance level. Results: Peer and leadership support were not significantly associated with meeting CDC exercise guidelines for disease prevention. Meeting exercise recommendations was associated with being male, not having a leadership position, being a minority, and having lower BMI and younger age. Conclusions: Due to volunteer firefighters’ limited time at the fire station, physical activity levels were not impacted by support from the department or peers.

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