Evidence-informed workplace policies and practices for the prevention of PTSI work disability

Reasons for the study

The prevalence of post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSIs) among first responders is high and often leads to work disability. Recent studies have shown that organizational policies and practices have an important impact on PTSIs; however, the scientific evidence about the effectiveness of PTSI interventions is limited. Regardless of the state of the scientific evidence, first responder organizations must develop ways to protect workers. This project will engage with Alberta first responder stakeholders to co-develop an evidence summary on current, best and effective interventions to manage and prevent PTSIs, to ensure the findings are relevant, and to increase the uptake of this knowledge in Alberta.

Objectives of the study

  • Explore and better understand the workplace and organizational policies and practices for preventing and managing PTSIs among first responders
  • Conduct an environmental scan of international first responder organizations to look for current approaches to PTSI and work disability prevention
  • Conduct a review of reviews of the scientific literature
  • Conduct interviews and focus groups with Alberta first responder stakeholders to gather current PTSI work disability prevention policies, programs and practices
  • Synthesize the evidence from an international environmental scan on PTSIs among first responders
  • Improve guidance on workplace policies and practices on preventing and managing PTSIs among first responders, with the ultimate aim of reducing PTSI-related work disability

Target audience

Based upon evidence from the research literature, and information from the environmental scan and first responder interviews, the team will synthesize key findings about effective work disability prevention, return to work and reintegration, contextual factors, and facilitators and barriers related to process and implementation. It will be used to create a practical evidence summary and recommendations that can be used by first responder organizations in Alberta and beyond.

Project status


Research team

  • Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health
  • Doug Gross, University of Alberta
  • Charl Els, University of Alberta
  • Sebastian Straube, University of Alberta
  • Suzette Bremault-Phillips, University of Alberta
  • Nick Carleton, University of Regina
  • Akshay Mohan, Institute for Work & Health
  • Joann Varickanickal, Institute for Work & Health

Collaborators and partners

WGM Psychological Services Ltd. (Dr. Megan McElheran)

Funded by

Government of Alberta