Stress levels in EMS personnel: a longitudinal study with work-schedule modification

Acad Emerg Med. 1994 May-Jun;1(3):240-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1994.tb02439.x.


Objective: To determine if stress levels of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel can be reduced by adjusting work schedules to personnel preferences.

Methods: A prospective, longitudinal, cohort study with a work-schedule modification intervention was performed. All EMS personnel employed by the City of Cleveland EMS were eligible for participation. EMS employees voluntarily completed an abbreviated medical personnel stress survey (MPSS-R), a 20- question validated stress-assessment tool, in September 1989, February 1991, and September 1991. A new scheduling pattern was introduced March 1991. At that time, 27 EMS employees volunteered to work the new schedule (12 hours/ shift: 3 days on/2 days off/2 days on/3 days off). The remaining 109 EMS employees remained on the old schedule (8 hours/shift: 6 days on/2 days off).

Results: Mean MPSS-R stress scores increased significantly from September 1990 (61.9 +/- 7.87) to September 1991 (65.08 +/- 7.23) (p < 0.05). In September 1991, mean stress scores of EMS personnel working the new schedule (64.39 +/- 7.82) were not significantly lower than stress scores of EMS personnel working the old schedule (65.25 +/- 7.10).

Conclusion: Stress in EMS personnel increased despite a new schedule pattern designed to accommodate the preferences of EMS personnel.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allied Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*