How stress affects the operation of paramedics?

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Table of Contents

Abstract. 2

1.0         Introduction. 2

2.0         Literature Review.. 3

3.0         Methodology. 5

Research Design. 5

Sampling Method. 5

Data Collection Method. 6

Data Analysis & Presentation. 6

Ethical Considerations. 7

4.0         Results and Findings. 7

Positive work effects. 7

Stress factors. 8

Effects of stress. 9

5.0         Discussion. 9

6.0         Recommendations. 11

7.0         Conclusion. 12

References. 13

Appendices. 15


This study aimed at establishing the effects that stress had on the motivation, morale and overall performance of Paramedics. It sought to establish the relationship that existed between these causes and the effects.

Previous studies have indicated that the main pressures that arises in undertaking of the paramedics’ roles include the low level of support from the top management, long working hours with lots of time spent at work hence very little time left to attend to family and personal issues The study thus seeks to establish which of these factors the paramedics associate with or encounter more often in the performance of their duties.

The study was descriptive in nature and aimed at exploration of experiences, views, perceptions and observations. Qualitative data collection methods were adopted with the use of a researcher administered questionnaire. The population was defined as paramedic students in Flinders University who had worked in Saudi Arabia and involved a sample size of four respondents.

The study concludes that stress in paramedicine comes from many sources and all stakeholders are contributors as well as victims of the stress. It then goes ahead and suggests some ways in which stakeholders can reduce the causative agents of stress.

1.0     Introduction

Work related stress is a well known phenomenon in many professions. However, some professions are more prone to it than others. Paramedicine, by its very nature, is among the professions with the highest risks of stress and its many manifestations. Extensive research has been carried out on stress, its characteristics and effects on paramedics.

This research aims at addressing itself to the causes of stress in paramedics and the effects it has on their morale, motivation and performance.

The study will approach the issue on a causal – effect theory with the aim of determining how the paramedics feel the various factors that they feel predispose them to stress would affect their overall on the job performance.

The study also seeks to fill a gap left by other studies in that it will not draw its own recommendations but will seek to gather these from the paramedics themselves thereby emerging with  home-grown solutions for Paramedics problems.

2.0     Literature Review

Stress has been found to heavily affect the level of employee output. Stress and its resultant burn out have especially been found to negatively affect the operation of paramedics and their level of job satisfaction (Nirel et al. 2008; Blau et al. 2011). A 2002 research study done to follow up the health and stress in the Ambulance Services Victoria indicated the main causes of stress among paramedics in the unit to include issues that pose as a hazard to their personal safety and having to watch a colleague in serious pain or injury, or to witness his death. The level of stress was however found to have decreased as compared to that of 1993. The study that involved 52% of the Metropolitan Ambulance Service and Rural Ambulance Service’s paramedics indicated an improvement in stress management among the paramedics since 1993 (Robinson 2002).

Qualitative studies have identified the nature of the job (that entailing helping others and saving lives), passion, variety and to some, the pay and associated benefits as being the main motivations behind taking up the paramedics career (Nirel et al. 2008; Vettor & Kosinski 2000). The main pressures that arises in undertaking of the paramedics’ roles include the low level of support from the top management, long working hours with lots of time spent at work hence very little time left to attend to family and personal issues A further issue is demoralizing compensation that includes a low pay as compared to the amount and complexity of work done (Nirel et al. 2008; Blau et al. 2011).

Studies conducted have identified workload, poor health, burnout and stress as being the greatest contributors of job dissatisfaction among paramedics. Paramedics are at a high risk of stress and burn outs as their job exposes them to stressful situations and tragedies that include injuries, death and harsh working environments. These highly result into emotional and psychological exhaustion (Vicki et al. 2005), factors that result into stress and burn out, which in turn leads to an increase in rates of resignations, poor work attendance and demoralization (Vettor & Kosinski 2000).

Previously, no qualitative research had focused on the use of projection methods to fore cast the possibility of paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians having stress and burn out. Vettor and Kosinsinki (2000) focused on the use of early recollections as a predictive method for stress assessment. The use of early recollections as indicated by the authors could be an effective way through which organizations can be able to identify paramedics and EMTs susceptible to stress and burnout. This would in turn reduce the incurrence of extra and unwanted costs related to replacement of resigned workers, treatment for employees, employees’ failure to attend work and sick leaves.

The most suitable theory for the undertaking of this research is the coping theory. This theory explains how organisms react to various situations and the means through which they are able to deal with any arising problem. In this case, the theory was important in answering the research question on how stress affects the operation of paramedics. It was useful in identifying how paramedics react  to stress at work, how increased stress levels have affected their daily undertaking of duties and the various strategies put in place to reduce the level of stress as well as its effects.

3.0     Methodology

Research Design

This study utilized descriptive design to gather relevant information in an explanatory manner (Mantri 2009). This research design was be constructive in the exploration of participants’ experiences, perceptions, views and observations from student paramedics from Flinders University. The design incorporated qualitative methods of data collection and research and involved one on one in-depth interviews with paramedics who have worked in Saudi Arabia.

Sampling Method

The study participants included a purposively selected sample of n=4 Saudi paramedic students from Flinders University in their final year of study. Purposeful sampling involves the selection of respondents based on a set of required characteristics (McBurney & White 2009).

The participants were allowed to volunteer to take part in the research process.

Data Collection Method

This study deployed a qualitative data collection method. Data for the study was collected through one-on-one in-depth interviews. This data collection method was preferred over focus group interviews mainly because the study deals with sensitive personal issues that participants may not be willing to share in a group. The sample was also small; hence, conducting one on one interview was possible without taking too much time. An informant guide was constructed to aid in the collection of data (Appendix 1) (Mantri 2009). The design of the informant guide was aligned with the insights from the research question as well as the literature review so as to cover specific areas of interest relevant to this study (Grbich 1999). The interview entailed the use of open ended questions.

In order to test the credibility of the interview guide, a pilot interview was conducted to identify possible areas of difficulty in understanding, ambiguity and irrelevance with regard to the research question (Grbich 1999).

Data Analysis & Presentation

To analyse the research data collected, thematic analysis approach was used. This involves studying the obtained patterns of responses or observations from the respondents (Grbich 1999). In this case, the obtained findings based on the responses given by the respondents were presented through the use of the descriptions given by the respondents during the interview and in response to the asked questions.

Ethical Considerations

It is important to note that the sampling process, piloting and actual data collection processes were conducted informally and with the verbal consent of participants.

As the data collected during this study contains very sensitive and personal information, all participants were assured of total confidentiality, anonymity and guaranteed that the findings of this research shall not cause them any professional or reputational harm whatsoever (Mantri 2009; Grbich 1999). It was important for the researcher to identify the possible harm or damage, both personal and professional, which could be caused on the participants if any of the information given was traced back to them. Finally, the findings of this result were used and disseminated exclusively for academic purposes.

4.0     Results and Findings

Majority of the participants in the research were practicing paramedics seeking further education in medical related fields. Four themes were identified in the description of the avail.............

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