Associations between organizational and incident factors and emotional distress in emergency ambulance personnel

Br J Clin Psychol. 2005 Jun;44(Pt 2):215-26. doi: 10.1348/014466505X29639.


Objectives: This study examined the prevalence and correlates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression among emergency ambulance personnel.

Design and method: A questionnaire and reminder were sent anonymously to 1029 emergency ambulance personnel in a large ambulance service.

Results: Among the 617 respondents, levels of PTSD symptoms did not differ according to grade, but men had a higher prevalence rate than women. Key predictors of the severity of symptoms were organizational stress, the frequency of experiencing potentially traumatic incidents, length of service, and dissociation in response to an index incident. The degree of organizational, but not incident-related, stress discriminated between 'cases' and 'non-cases'. Nine and 23% of recorded scores indicated clinical levels of depression and anxiety respectively. Several work factors were associated with these emotions, explaining 38% of anxiety and 31% of depression scores.

Conclusion: Both organizational and individually based interventions may be necessary to minimize PTSD and other emotional disorders among ambulance personnel.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulances*
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cognition
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology*