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Organisational factors: impacting on health for ambulance personnel

Juliet Harrison (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 4 December 2018

Issue publication date: 22 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to establish if organisational factors are leading to a negative effect on ambulance personnel’s health. In recent years, frontline ambulance personnel have displayed a consistent high rate of sickness amongst healthcare workers within the National Health Service in the UK. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has previously been cited, but organisational factors may be stressors to health.


A search of electronic databases MEDLINE EBSCO, MEDLINE OVID, MEDLINE PUBMED, AMED, CINAHL, Web of Science, Zetoc within the time period of 2000–2017 resulted in six mixed methods studies. Hand searching elicited one further study. The literature provided data on organisational and occupational stressors (excluding PTSD) relating to the health of 2,840 frontline ambulance workers in the UK, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands and Canada. The robust quantitative data were obtained from validated questionnaires using statistical analysis, whilst the mixed quality qualitative data elicited similar themes. Narrative synthesis was used to draw theories from the data.


Organisational factors such as low job autonomy, a lack of supervisor support and poor leadership are impacting on the health and well-being of frontline ambulance workers. This is intertwined with the occupational factors of daily operational demands, fatigue and enforced overtime, so organisational changes may have a wider impact on daily occupational issues.


The findings have possible implications for re-structuring organisational policies within the ambulance service to reduce staff sickness.



Harrison, J. (2019), "Organisational factors: impacting on health for ambulance personnel", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 134-146.



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