Fatigue and mental health in Australian rural and regional ambulance personnel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Australian ambulance personnel experience stress, fatigue and exposure to traumatic events. These risks have been extensively researched in metropolitan paramedics. However, there has been limited research in rural and regional personnel. Rural and regional ambulance personnel make up a significant proportion of the Australian ambulance workforce and may be exposed to unique stressors. The aim of the current study was to investigate levels of fatigue, stress, and emotional trauma in rural and regional ambulance personnel. 

Methods: A sample of 134 (103 male, 31 female) rural and regional ambulance personnel completed a mixed methods survey assessing fatigue, stress and emotional trauma. Data were analysed using a combination of descriptive analysis and qualitative, deductive analysis that involved data immersion, coding, and categorisation. 

Results: Participants reported high levels of fatigue and emotional trauma. Qualitative data revealed stressors including community expectations and 'office politics'. Participants also reported negative effects of fatigue including errors in drug administration and falling asleep while driving. The majority of participants reported normal levels of stress. It may be the case that working with known individuals in a community offers some degree of 'protective' impact for stress in rural and regional ambulance personnel. 

Conclusions: This is one of the first studies to investigate fatigue, stress, and emotional trauma in a rural and regional ambulance population. Results indicate a complex and unique profile of risks and challenges for this critical and understudied community resource.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-66
Number of pages5
JournalEMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ambulance
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Trauma

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