Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Elizabeth Lane, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christina Brown, Psy.D.


The present study investigated coping strategies utilized by first responders and how those strategies relate to resilience, PTSD symptomology, and hypervigilance. The purpose of this study is to help provide more detailed information as to how first responders’ coping impacts their overall functioning. First responders (N = 181), including law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians, completed online surveys measuring whether engaged or disengaged coping strategies were used to manage stressful situations. Self-perceived resilience, PTSD symptoms, and hypervigilance were also measured. A one-way between-groups multivariate analysis of variance was performed to test the relationships between engaged versus disengaged coping strategies and resilience, PTSD symptomology, and hypervigilance. Results of the study showed statistically significant differences between engaged and disengaged coping strategies on the dependent variables of self-perceived resilience, PTSD symptomology, and hypervigilance, F (3, 177) = 43.43, p < .001; partial eta squared = .42. When the results for the dependent variables were considered separately, self-perceived resilience, F (1, 179) = 26.64, p = .0000006, partial eta squared = .13, PTSD symptomology, F (1, 179) = 125.86, p < .001, partial eta squared = .41, and hypervigilance, F (1, 179) = 20.95, p = .000009, partial eta squared = .11, all reached statistical significance. First responders who utilized engaged coping strategies had significantly higher rates of self-perceived resilience (M = 31.65, SD = 4.94) than first responders who utilized disengaged coping strategies (M = 27.12, SD = 6.88). First responders who utilized disengaged coping strategies reported significantly higher rates of symptoms of PTSD (M = 45.45, SD = 17.40) compared to first responders who utilized engaged coping strategies (M = 19.40, SD = 13.80). They also reported higher rates of hypervigilance (M = 11.17, SD = 4.86) compared to ii those who utilized engaged coping strategies (M = 7.87, SD = 4.73). The type of coping strategies utilized by first responders relate to their self-perceived resilience, presence of PTSD symptoms, and symptoms of hypervigilance that are experienced. Future work is warranted to assess any mediating variables that may be influencing these relationships.


First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my dissertation committee, Dr. Lane and Dr. Brown. I would not have been able to complete this research that I am so passionate about without the knowledge and guidance obtained through your mentorship. You have both contributed immensely to the professional and personal growth that I have achieved throughout this program, and for that I am forever grateful.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for the love and support my family has given me throughout the entirety of my academic journey. It is not always easy to deal with someone whose life is consumed by school, and I appreciate every second of your understanding. You have been my biggest fans through it all, and that is something I will never take for granted. I also want to emphasize that this final piece of the puzzle could not have been completed without your persistent help in distributing my survey.

Lastly, I want to extend my sincerest and deepest appreciation to all of the first responders who took the time out of their busy schedules to share and/or complete my survey. Thank you for your participation and, most importantly, thank you for your sacrifices.