PTSD, burnout and well-being among rescue workers: Seeking to understand the impact of the European refugee crisis on rescuers

Psychiatry Res. 2018 Apr;262:446-451. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.09.022. Epub 2017 Sep 12.


Individuals who perform rescue and recovery duties, as part of their daily work activities, confront diverse stressors that can affect their mental state and overall well-being. The study aimed to assess the prevalence and the factors associated with self-assessed PTSD, perceived well-being and burnout among rescue workers operating at Lesvos during the European refugees crisis. 217 rescuers participated in the study, while the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and the Well-being Index (WHO-5) were utilized. The prevalence of self-assessed PTSD and perceived burnout syndrome was 17.1% and 57% respectively, while 72.8% of the rescuers reported low levels of perceived well-being. Self-assessed PTSD was positively correlated with perceived burnout and inversely correlated with perceived well-being. Perceived burnout was also inversely correlated with perceived well-being. A number of significant predictors were identified for self-assessed PTSD, perceived burnout and well-being, including: family status, age, duration of shifts, collection of dead adults or dead children bodies. The impact of the refugee crisis is visible on the rescue workers that offer rescue and first aid services. There is an urgent need for implementing effective interventions focusing on the identified determinants in order to enhance the occupational psychological burden of rescuers.

Keywords: Emergency workers; Mental health; Occupational risk; Psychological burden.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Responders / statistics & numerical data*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rescue Work*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*