IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 9819: Job Demands and Exhaustion in Firefighters: The Moderating Role of Work Meaning. A Cross-Sectional Study (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Emotional exhaustion and other symptoms of burnout are often found among emergency services professions, such as firefighting. Given the social importance of this activity and the high responsibility it requires, prevention and alleviation of burnout symptoms become primary concerns in ensuring the well-being of firefighters. Although work meaning is one of the factors associated with a lower risk of developing burnout, its protective role has not been studied in firefighters. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the buffering role of work meaning in the health-impairment process of the Job Demands-Resources model, targeting the relationship between job demands and related emotional exhaustion. A cross-sectional survey design was used to collect data from a sample consisting of Romanian firefighters (n = 1096). Structural equation modeling indicated a positive link between job demands and exhaustion. In addition, deriving personal meaning from work was associated with lower levels of exhaustion in firefighters. A small but significant interaction effect between work meaning and job demands showed that higher levels of work meaning attenuated the positive relationship between job demands and exhaustion. In conclusion, our findings suggest that work meaning has a buffering effect on the impact of various job demands on job-related exhaustion. Nevertheless, the small effect sizes warrant further research on this topic.