Impact of Person-Environment Fit Upon Strain and Well-Being for Emergency Responders

April D Schantz, Florida International University


This dissertation used a person-environment fit theoretical framework to examine the influence of person-job misfit as an organizational stressor on strain and well-being outcomes for emergency responders. Independent variables consisted of job attributes such as skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and job-based feedback. These job characteristics are often used in work redesign efforts as they are amendable to organizational change initiatives. Dependent variables included strain outcomes relevant to those working in emergency services: physical symptoms, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. Also, to include a positive aspect of emergency services work, the well-being outcome of compassion satisfaction was examined. Data were collected from 358 emergency responders across the United States via online survey, including law enforcement, firefighters, police/fire/medical dispatch, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics. Methodology utilized polynomial regression analysis in which joint linear and curvilinear effects from two predictors upon one outcome correspond to a three-dimensional response surface reflecting the fit-outcome relationship. This approach allowed a detailed examination of the nature of fit and the nature of misfit for each job attribute in relation to strain and well-being. Maximum likelihood with bootstrapping was used to estimate model parameters and test response surface features. Findings identified several influential fit-outcome relationships including skill variety fit-compassion satisfaction (a1 = 0.366), task identity fit-burnout (a2 = -0.083), task significance fit-burnout (a1 = -0.241) task significance fit-compassion satisfaction (a1 = 0.496,), job-based feedback fit-physical symptoms (a1 = -3.807), job-based feedback fit-burnout (a 1 = -0.323), and job-based feedback fit-compassion satisfaction (a 1 = 0.391). In terms of misfit, task identity misfit was related to secondary traumatic stress (a3 = -0.209) and job-based feedback misfit was related to burnout (a3 = -0.234). Conclusions regarding identified fit-outcome relationships suggested a potential to reduce frequency of physical symptoms, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress and increase employees’ experience of compassion satisfaction by considering employees’ preference for these job characteristics. On the basis of these findings, opportunities for Emergency Services Management agencies to facilitate wellness for personnel, as well as future research directions are discussed.

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Recommended Citation

Schantz, April D, "Impact of Person-Environment Fit Upon Strain and Well-Being for Emergency Responders" (2018). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI13805998.