It's Time to Talk to Prehospital Providers: Feedback Disparities among Ground-Based Emergency Medical Services Providers and its Impact on Job Satisfaction

Prehosp Disaster Med. 2021 Aug;36(4):486-494. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X21000601. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Objective: Performance feedback on clinical care and patient outcomes is a cornerstone of medical education, yet it remains lacking in the prehospital environment. Research seeking to establish the quantity of feedback provided to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has been limited and studies focused on complimentary feedback or how feedback relates to EMS job satisfaction are lacking. The objectives of this study were to measure the frequency and nature of feedback received by EMS agencies and to identify the importance of receiving feedback as it relates to EMS job satisfaction.

Methods: This was an anonymous, survey-based study of twenty-nine Basic Life Support (BLS) and fifteen Advanced Life Support (ALS) agencies located in Southeastern Minnesota (USA). Descriptive statistics and Fisher exact tests were used. The study was deemed exempt by the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board.

Results: Ninety-four responses were included from nineteen different EMS agencies, including sixty-one (64.9%) paramedics and thirty-three (35.1%) emergency medical technicians (EMTs). One-half of all respondents reported that they had not received any type of feedback in the past 30 days, while another 43.6% of respondents indicated that they had only received feedback one to three times in the same time period. Twenty (60.6%) EMTs reported receiving no feedback in the past 30 days, compared with twenty-seven (44.3%) paramedics (P = .123). Of respondents receiving feedback, 65.9% reported never or rarely receiving positive reinforcing feedback and 60.6% reported never or rarely receiving constructive criticism or feedback regarding something that did not go well with patient care or transport. The majority of respondents were dissatisfied with the quantity (86.1%) and quality (73.4%) of feedback received. An overwhelming majority (93.6%) indicated that feedback on patient care or outcomes was important in influencing their overall job satisfaction. This high importance was maintained across all demographic groups.

Conclusion: Within the cohort of survey respondents, a paucity of feedback received by EMS personnel is a source of dissatisfaction for EMS providers. Feedback on patient care strongly relates to overall job satisfaction. These findings suggest system-wide opportunities for structured feedback processes, focusing upon both quality and quantity of delivered feedback, to improve both patient care and staff satisfaction.

Keywords: Emergency Medical Services; emergency medical technicians; feedback; job satisfaction; paramedics; prehospital.