Health status in the ambulance services

Health status in the ambulance services

Health status in the ambulance services

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Health status in the ambulance services until recently.

Occupational health within the ambulance services has received relatively little attention from researchers.

In the past few years, researchers have become increasingly aware that ambulance personnel may be at risk of developing work-related health problems [12]. This is the first systematic review to address the health status of workers in the ambulance services.

Research on health in the ambulance services has been based on the assumption that such work is inherently stressful [3]. Ambulance workers frequently have to take rapid action and provide medical care under life-and-death circumstances in unfamiliar and inconvenient circumstances while being scrutinized by bystanders and relatives [4].

Moreover, they often have to deal with unpredictable and non-specific threats, such as the possibility of contracting diseases from patients or being attacked by mentally unstable or violent patients [5]. Ambulance personnel also must attend to non-emergency work, such as transporting and providing appropriate care to chronically and terminally ill patients, which imposes different emotional demands and which might be experienced as more emotionally exhausting than more sensational events [6].

A review addressing the relation between stress and strain in ambulance workers published 10 years ago [7] concluded that more research is needed to evaluate the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder among ambulance personnel, and to compare their level of depression and anxiety to the general population [7].

A number of studies have been published with a much broader health scope than the stress related health problems addressed previously [7]. Hence, an updated review is needed to evaluate ambulance workers’ health status.

Our objective was to present an updated review addressing health problems among ambulance personnel. The specific research questions are:

  1. 1.

    Do ambulance personnel have more health problems compared with other occupational groups?

  2. 2.

    What is the evidence for negative health consequences within the ambulance services as a result of stressful/harmful work conditions and individual differences (e.g., personality and coping behaviour)?