Date of Award
PhD Health Sciences
Health and Medical Sciences
Deborah A. DeLuca, M.S., J.D.
Terrence Cahill, EdD
Genevieve Pinto Zipp, EdD
Theory of Planned Behavior, Volunteer Firefighters, Physical Activity, Intentions, Fitness Requirements, Barriers to Physical Activity
Background: The study aimed to investigate the factors influencing the intentions of Volunteer Firefighters in the USA to engage in physical activity. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) constructs, including Attitudes, Perceived Behavioral Control, Actual Behavioral Control, and Subjective Norms, alongside three new constructs not linked to TPB—Habits, Environmental Factors, and lack of knowledge—as potential predictors of physical activity intentions.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between TPB constructs and the newly emerged factors with the intentions of Volunteer Firefighters to be physically active. By understanding these factors, the study sought to shed light on potential barriers and facilitators that could influence their physical activity behaviors.
Methods: The study used a basic qualitative design with purposeful, criterion and snowball sampling methods, analyzing data from Volunteer Firefighters across the USA. Participants' intentions to be physically active were assessed based on the TPB constructs. Data were collected through surveys and interviews. A twelve-item semi-structured interview protocol, developed from the TPB was used with probes to conduct approximately 30 minutes’ interviews with each participant. The interviews were conducted until no new codes emerged, recorded, and then transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were coded using open, in-vivo, and descriptive coding approaches. Inter-coder consensus was reached. Categories were developed from the codes for thematic analysis. The TPB constructs informed some of the themes and three newly identified themes—Habits, environmental factors, and lack of knowledge emerged.
Results: The analysis revealed that TPB constructs, including Attitudes, Perceived Behavioral Control, Actual Behavioral Control, and Subjective Norms, were predictors of physical activity intentions among Volunteer Firefighters in the USA. Additionally, the study found that the newly emerged factors, Habits, environmental factors, and lack of knowledge, also contributed to predicting intentions to be physically active.
Conclusion: The study's findings underscore the importance of considering both TPB constructs and the additional factors when developing interventions to promote physical activity among Volunteer Firefighters. Addressing barriers related to time constraints, weight concerns, harsh weather conditions, and lack of sleep may help improve their intentions to engage in regular physical activity. Moreover, recognizing the influence of family support and the significance of mental agility and awareness in firefighting situations can further enhance strategies aimed at promoting physical activity and overall well-being among Volunteer Firefighters.
Overall, this research provides valuable insights into the complex interplay of factors that influence physical activity intentions among Volunteer Firefighters. It serves as a foundation for the development of targeted interventions and strategies to address the specific challenges faced by this population, promoting their health and fitness. Additionally, the application of theory in this study highlights its potential utility in understanding physical activity intentions among Volunteer Firefighters and offers valuable implications for future research and intervention development in this area.
Bermudez, Patricia, "Understanding the Intentions of US based Firefighters to be Physically Active by Using the Theory of Planned Behavior" (2023). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 3112.
Available for download on Wednesday, July 30, 2025