Firefighter perceptions of cancer risk: Results of a qualitative study

David A. Anderson, Tyler R. Harrison, Fan Yang, Jessica Wendorf Muhamad, Susan E. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Recent epidemiological research on firefighters indicates an increased incidence of specific types of cancer. Intervention is needed in the fire service yet little is known about how firefighters perceive their cancer risk. Methods: Participant observation (150 h, n = 100) and focus group (n = 17) data were collected from 15 fire stations in South Florida. Firefighters had at least 3 years of experience, ranks included drivers, captains, lieutenants, and specialty captains, with a median age of 51 years. Results: From the qualitative analysis, two major categories (direct and indirect factors) for cancer risks emerged based on participant notions of cancer risk and cancer prevention behaviors as they relate to firefighting. Conclusions: Firefighters perceive cancer risks as the result of performing essential job tasks and from indirect job factors related to being a firefighter. The two categories of cancer risks suggest different points of entry for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-650
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • cancer
  • firefighters
  • high reliability organizations
  • occupational health
  • qualitative methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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