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Systematic review of randomised control trial health promotion intervention studies in the fire services: study characteristics, intervention design and impacts on health


The objective of this study was to systematically review health promotion interventions in the fire services. Four databases were searched for articles reporting on health promotion interventions for firefighters evaluated in randomised controlled trials (RCT) and measuring efficacy on health or lifestyle behaviour outcomes. Data were extracted to create a narrative synthesis regarding study design, intervention characteristics and impact on outcomes. Risk of bias was assessed using a 13-item tool. Of 448 papers identified, after removal of duplicates, 209 were excluded based on title/abstract screening. A further 60 papers were excluded, mostly due to studies not being RCTs, not including a lifestyle behaviour intervention, or not focusing on health or lifestyle behaviour outcomes. Ten studies (reported in 11 papers) were eligible for inclusion. Six studies compared an intervention to usual practice, one compared a full intervention to a minimal intervention, one compared two exercise programmes and two compared two interventions to usual practice. Four studies evaluated structured physical activity interventions. Five studies evaluated physical activity and diet-focused behaviour change programmes, and one study included a mindfulness programme. When assessing risk of bias, three studies had low risk ratings for >8/13 items, leaving seven studies with high-risk ratings for ≥5/13 items. Eight of the 10 studies reported improvements in at least 1 outcome from baseline to final follow-up in the intervention group over a comparison group. The majority of lifestyle behaviour interventions targeted physical activity and/or diet. Findings from included studies suggest that programmes for firefighters initiated in the workplace can improve some health outcomes.

  • health promotion
  • fire fighters

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