Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 June 2012
Personal risk behaviors are modifiable. This report describes the 2002 national baseline of behavioral health risk factors of US emergency medical technicians (EMTs) that can guide policy and program development in improving EMT well-being.
A 19-item Health Behavioral Risk Survey (Appendix) was added to the 2002 Longitudinal Emergency Medical Technician Demographic Study mail survey. Risk survey questions covering physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use were modeled after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) questionnaire. Personal, non-work related seatbelt use and motor vehicle driving questions were adopted from the 2002 US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey (MVOSS). Post-stratification adjustment factors were used to allow comparisons with BRFSS and MVOSS national estimates.
A total of 1,919 EMT respondents were compared with 239,866 BRFSS and 5,220 MVOSS respondents. These comparisons indicate that EMT-Basics drove more slowly than paramedics; male EMTs drove faster, drank more, and wore their seatbelts less often than did female EMTs; female EMTs smoked more and engaged in vigorous exercise less than males. Those EMTs who reported to be in fair or poor health, smoked more and exercised less than those who reported to be in good or excellent health. Regardless of gender, age, or race, EMTs, on average, wore their seatbelts less often, drove faster than, and were less likely to engage in moderate physical exercise, compared to US adults.
Stereotypical gender differences in risk behaviors exist among EMTs. An EMT's self-reported health positively correlates with smoking and exercising. Compared to US national estimates, except for smoking and vigorous exercise, EMTs have increased risk behaviors.
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