Describing the Work-Family Conflict experience of rural, volunteer firefighters

by McCarthy, Ann Marie, Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO, 2008, 149 pages; 3318103


The purpose of this dissertation is to present the exploratory descriptive study conducted to determine if Work-Family Conflict (WFC) and Family-Work Conflict (FWC) are problems for volunteer rural firefighters, who also serve as emergency medical services providers. The study utilized a mixed methods approach involving three quantitative surveys and six qualitative, open-ended questions; the Netemeyer, Boles, and McMurrian (1996) five-item WFC and FWC scales, six items chosen from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (2002) Quality of Worklife Questionnaire, and a demographic survey. Research to date has primarily studied career firefighters and their occupational stress. One of the potential challenges facing volunteer firefighters is a juggling of efforts between roles as family member and volunteer firefighter.

This study's mixed methods approach encompassed quantitative methodology as the primary approach, with qualitative inquiry supplementation. A convenience sample of consenting adult members of the San Juan County, New Mexico Fire Department comprised the study population.

The quantitative results demonstrated relatively low levels of WFC and FWC for the study sample. Reliability analysis of Netemeyer's et al. (1996) WFC/FWC scales produced Cronbach's alpha levels that demonstrated high levels of internal consistency reliability. The qualitative results essentially supported those findings, with the following two final sets of code categories: identified strengths and specific stressors. Themes emerging from the codes and qualitative analysis centered on time and role conflict, and family support for one's firefighter role. This research concluded that the Netemeyer instrument was reliable for use with this population, and that WFC/FWC was not a significant problem or concern for the volunteer firefighters of San Juan County, New Mexico.

Source TypeDissertation
Publication Number3318103

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