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Extant research has established an empirical relationship between fatigue and safety-related outcomes. It is not clear if these findings are relevant to Canadian paramedicine. The purpose of this study was to determine if fatigue and shiftwork variables were related to safety outcomes in Canadian paramedics.
A survey was conducted with ten paramedic services in Ontario with a 40.5% response rate (n = 717). Respondents reported levels of fatigue, safety outcomes (injury, safety compromising behaviours, and medical errors/adverse events), work patterns (types of shifts, hours worked weekly) and demographic characteristics. Univariate and logistic regression analyses were used to assess for significant differences.
In this sample, 55% of paramedics reported being fatigued at work. Fatigued paramedics were over twice as likely to report injuries, three times as likely to report safety compromising behaviors, and 1.5 times more likely to report errors/adverse outcomes. When controlling for fatigue, shift length variables did not consistently influence safety outcomes.
These results create preliminary evidence of a relationship between fatigue and safety outcomes in Canadian paramedicine. While more research is needed, these findings point to the influence fatigue has on safety outcomes and provide an indication that fatigue mitigation efforts may be worthwhile.
Emergency medical service (EMS) providers are exposed to a variety of stressors endemic to the profession. These exposures may contribute to stress reactions, including posttraumatic stress. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between work-related stressors and posttraumatic stress. The secondary objective was to determine paramedics’ preferred sources of support for managing work-related stress.
269 paramedics in a county-based EMS service were invited to complete an online survey. Respondents reported their demographic characteristics, levels of chronic stress, critical incident stress, posttraumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS), and preferred sources of support for managing work-related stress.
A total of 145 paramedics completed the survey. PTSS was significantly correlated with operational stress (p<0.001), organizational stress (p<0.001), and critical incident stress (p<0.001). Regression models revealed that chronic operational stress was a significant independent predictor of PTSS (p<0.001) and in combination with critical incident stress (p<0.01). Paramedics reported a higher preference for receiving support from a work partner, friend, or family member than from other sources (p<0.001).
Both chronic and critical incident stressors appear to be significant predictors of PTSS. Our findings suggests that holistic health and wellness initiatives that address the impact of both critical incident stress and the chronic stressors associated with day-to-day operations may help mitigate PTSS. Our findings also provide preliminary evidence that interventions may benefit from a focus on peer support and on friends and family members who can support the affected paramedic.
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