Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


Behavioral Sciences



First Advisor

Andrea Paiva


Despite the extensive literature that exists on alcohol use, misuse, and drinking to cope, a drinking culture remains prevalent in occupations that experience high volumes of induced occupational stress and exposure to trauma. To our knowledge, patterns of alcohol use motives have never been characterized in a firefighter/emergency medical technician (FF/EMT) sample, nor have they been evaluated in the context of other relevant factors. The current study investigated the Drinking Motives Questionnaire-revised (DMQ-r) within a sample of FF/EMT who reported that they currently drink alcohol (N=183). This study sought to confirm the factor structure of the DMQ-r, identify empirically derived drinking motive cluster subtypes from the DMQ-r subscales, and examine differences among the resulting clusters. Analyses confirmed the original factor structure of the DMQ-r and revealed four clusters among the DMQ-r subscales. These clusters were labeled 1) Low Motives, 2) Average/Below Average Motives, 3) High Enhancement/Social Reinforcement; Low Coping/Conformity, and 4) High Motives; Highest Coping/Conformity. Clusters differed significantly on years of service, impulsivity and sensation seeking, tension reduction, social lubrication, and alcohol use, with the differences mainly being found between the Low Motives Cluster (Cluster 1) and High Motives Clusters (Clusters 3 & 4). Lower motivation for alcohol use, as demonstrated by the Low Motive Cluster, also indicated lower levels of alcohol consumption rates, whereas our highest motivational drinking patterns, as seen in both Cluster 3 and Cluster 4, indicated a level of high-risk alcohol consumption behavior. Results of a MANOVA on psychosocial variables aided the understanding of the drinking patterns by cluster. For example, lower scores on both tension reduction and social lubrication were identified within the Low Motives cluster. Overall, this study provides an exploratory foundation for future research on these specific motive subtypes. These subtypes will enable researchers to develop tailored interventions that can help firefighters and EMTs with the underlying reasons they drink and move away from the more generalized approach to intervention assuming all firefighters and EMTs are drinking for the same reasons.



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