Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Brittany Canady, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. April Fugett

Third Advisor

Dr. Marianna Linz

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Christine Kemmner


Diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have undergone multiple revisions over the past few decades which have substantially refined our understanding of PTSD. Upon the publication of DSM-5, occupational exposure is now officially recognized as satisfying criterion A (exposure to a traumatic event) for the diagnosis of PTSD. First responder populations - particularly EMS personnel - have been historically understudied and warrant additional attention. The present study examines PTSD symptomology in a rural EMS population, as well as considering barriers to treatment. A total of 437 participants from West Virginia and western Pennsylvania completed a survey that included demographic information, exposure to traumatic events, PTSD symptoms, and perceived barriers to mental health care. Of those participants, 35% met criteria for provisional PTSD diagnoses. The majority of those individuals (96%) endorsed at least one traumatic event occurring as a part of their job. Barriers to accessing care in rural communities were identified, with the majority of participants endorsing personal financial difficulties, stigma, and employment as the most significant barriers. More intervention efforts are needed for rural EMS providers that target symptom recognition and treatment. Ultimately, the stigma of help-seeking behaviors should be addressed by supervisors and directors.


Post-traumatic stress disorder -- Diagnosis.


Mental health services.

Rural health.