The British Journal of Psychiatry
Ambulance personnel and critical incidents: Impact of accident and emergency work on mental health and emotional well-being
Impact of accident and emergency work on mental health and emotional well-being
DAVID A. ALEXANDER, SUSAN KLEIN

Abstract

Background The association between mental health and occupational factors among ambulance personnel has not been thoroughly investigated in the UK.

Aims To identify the prevalence of psychopathology among ambulance personnel and its relationship to personality and exposure to critical incidents.

Method Data were gathered from ambulance personnel by means of an anonymous questionnaire and standardised measures.

Results Approximately a third of the sample reported high levels of general psychopathology, burnout and posttraumatic symptoms. Burnout was associated with less job satisfaction, longer time in service, less recovery time between incidents, and more frequent exposure to incidents. Burnout and GHQ-28 caseness were more likely in those who had experienced a particularly disturbing incident in the previous 6 months. Concerns about confidentiality and career prospects deter staff from seeking personal help.

Conclusions The mental health and emotional well-being of ambulance personnel appear to be compromised by accident and emergency work.

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