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An exploration of violence against paramedics, burnout and post-traumatic symptoms in two Australian ambulance services

Nualnong Wongtongkam (School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 7 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Violence directed at ambulance paramedics has attracted increasing public attention because of its major negative impact on the physical and psychological well-being of victims and productivity of organisations. The purpose of this paper is to explore the prevalence of violent incidents, contributing factors, burnout and post-traumatic symptoms among paramedics.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional survey was distributed in two ambulance services in Tasmania and South Australia, with self-administered instruments completed online. In total, 48 respondents completed questionnaires.

Findings

There were no significant differences between sites in timing of violent incidents, consequences of traumatic events or organisation provision. Surprisingly, over 90 per cent of paramedics had not been pushed, slapped, beaten, scratched or spat on in the previous month. There was a statistically significant difference between genders for being yelled at or verbally abused (p=0.02). When considering burnout, female paramedics showed significantly higher levels of emotional exhaustion t(37)=–2.32, p=0.02 and lower levels of career satisfaction than their male counterparts, t(37)=3.32, p=0.00.

Originality/value

Although prevalence rates of violent incidents seemed lower than expected, policy interventions to encourage female paramedics to display their professional identities and steps to enhance well-being and safety while on duty should be considered.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Conflict of interest: the author has no conflict of interest to declare regarding authorship.

Funding: the study has no financial support.

The author would like to thank all participants from two ambulance services to complete the online survey and special thanks to Melanie Thorrowgood, Clinical Audit & Research Manager from SA Ambulance Services, and Alex Wilson, Coordinator Research from Ambulance Tasmania to facilitate an ethical approval and questionnaire’s administration.

Citation

Wongtongkam, N. (2017), "An exploration of violence against paramedics, burnout and post-traumatic symptoms in two Australian ambulance services", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 134-146. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-03-2017-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited