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EMS workers on the frontline of the opioid epidemic: effects of sleep and social support on depression

Paige Sable (School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Fengyan Tang (School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jenifer A. Swab (School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Sheila Roth (MSW Program, Carlow University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Daniel Rosen (School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 23 May 2023

Issue publication date: 23 November 2023

41

Abstract

Purpose

This study focuses on Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel and examines the impact of overdose calls for opioids and attitudes of EMS workers towards individuals with substance use disorders on EMS workers' mental well-being while accounting for self-reported sleep and social support.

Design/methodology/approach

This cross-sectional study surveyed EMS workers (N = 608) across Pennsylvania on demographic variables, frequency of overdose calls, attitudes towards opioid use and naloxone administration on measures of mental health. Multiple logistic regression models were estimated to examine the relationship of perception of opioid use and treatment and likelihood that EMS workers might experience depression.

Findings

Authors found two main findings: (1) There was a significant relationship between more negative perceptions about opioid use/naloxone and the likelihood that EMS workers might experience depression. (2) There was a significant relationship between number of overdose calls EMS workers responded to and likelihood of depression, which appeared to be alleviated by improvements in sleep and social support.

Research limitations/implications

There is potential opportunity for EMS employers to minimize the impact of the opioid epidemic on EMS worker mental health. Trainings to highlight effectiveness of treatment should be further explored, along with ways to enhance social support and improve sleep for EMS workers to protect against the stress associated with responding to this public health crisis.

Originality/value

This study adds to the literature on the impact of the opioid epidemic as it relates to mental health outcomes for EMS professionals providing frontline care to those experiencing opioid use disorders.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Janette A. Swade, MBA Executive Director PA Emergency Health Services Council (PEHSC) for providing assistance with this project.

Citation

Sable, P., Tang, F., Swab, J.A., Roth, S. and Rosen, D. (2023), "EMS workers on the frontline of the opioid epidemic: effects of sleep and social support on depression", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 306-317. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-08-2022-0037

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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