Exploring the Occupational Lifestyle Experiences of the Families of Public Safety Personnel

Rachel Richmond, Rosemary Ricciardelli, Rachel Dekel, Deborah Norris, Alyson Mahar, Joy MacDermid, Nicola T. Fear, Rachael Gribble, Heidi Cramm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Public safety personnel, including first responders, are regularly exposed to physical, social, and psychological risks and occupational requirements. These risks and requirements extend beyond the employee and may also impact the families (for example, work-family conflict, compassion fatigue). Despite recent attention directed at the population’s wellness, considerably less attention is directed towards the family. This review investigates how the risks and requirements associated with these occupations affect families’ lives and experiences, and correspondingly, how families respond and adapt to these risks. Methods: In the current qualitative review, we sought to identify and describe the lifestyle experiences of public safety families as they navigate the occupational risks and requirements of public safety work. The inclusion criteria resulted in an analysis of 18 articles, representing only police (n = 11), paramedics (n = 7), and firefighting (n = 10) sectors. Results: We identified and described the experiences of public safety families both by occupation and familial role. Shared familial themes across occupational groups included ‘Worry’, ‘Communication’, ‘Where do I turn’, ‘Are they okay’, ‘Serving alongside’, and ‘(Over)Protective’. However, distinct themes also emerged between different occupational groups and family configurations. Themes prevalent amongst primarily children of police included: ‘Worry’, ‘Let’s Laugh Instead’, ‘(Over)Protective’, and ‘I’m not the Police, my Parent is!’. Experiences differed if the family contained on serving public safety personnel or multiple. Conclusion: We identified the shared and unique occupational experiences of public safety families. This review normalizes these experiences and emphasizes the need to develop initiatives to improve the well-being of families and safety employees.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Early online date28 Mar 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Family perspective
  • Occupational rehabilitation
  • Public safety personnel
  • Qualitative
  • Systematic review


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