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.