Studies suggest that the psychopathological effects of involvement in critical incidents among emergency service workers failing to seek help in a timely manner may be detrimental both for the individual and for the organization. However, little is known as to the factors governing when individuals seek such help. Consequently, drawing from the help-seeking and coping literatures, we generate a theory explicating how job characteristics (namely, job control) and situational factors (namely, the severity of incident involvement) combine to influence help-seeking delay or, in other words, the amount of time that passes before employees seek help for incident-related distress. Using data collected from firefighters who were involved at varying degrees of intensity in the events in and around the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, we demonstrate that increasing levels of situational severity influence the relationship between job-control and help-seeking delay with job control having a curvilinear association with help-seeking delay under conditions of high situational severity.
- Job control
- Situational severity