Social Support, Self-efficacy, Trauma and Well-Being in Emergency Medical Dispatchers

Abstract

Emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs) respond to crisis calls for ambulance; they dispatch paramedics and provide emotional and medical assistance to callers. Despite the stressful nature and exposure to potentially traumatising events in this role, there has been no published research specifically investigating well-being or posttraumatic growth among EMDs. Extrapolating from research conducted among other emergency services workers (e.g., paramedics, police), literature attests to the importance of self efficacy and social support in promoting mental health in emergency service workers. Therefore, this study assessed the impact of self efficacy, and giving and receiving social support on psychological well-being, posttraumatic growth (PTG), and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sixty EMDs (50 % response rate) completed an online questionnaire. Three hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to ascertain predictors of well-being, PTG and PTSD. Receiving social support emerged as a significant positive predictor of well-being and PTG, and a significant negative predictor of PTSD. Self efficacy was found to significantly and positively predict well-being, and shift-work was found to significantly and negatively predict PTSD. These results highlight that self efficacy and receiving social support are likely to be important for enhancing well-being within this population, and that receiving social support is also likely to facilitate positive post-trauma responses. Such findings have implications for the way emergency service personnel are educated with reference to aspects of mental health and how best to support personnel in order to achieve optimal mental health outcomes for all.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the Queensland Ambulance Service for their continued support of psychological research aimed at enhancing the well-being of their staff and to the emergency medical dispatchers who gave freely of their time to make this project possible.

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Correspondence to Jane Shakespeare-Finch.

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Shakespeare-Finch, J., Rees, A. & Armstrong, D. Social Support, Self-efficacy, Trauma and Well-Being in Emergency Medical Dispatchers. Soc Indic Res 123, 549–565 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0749-9

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Keywords

  • Emergency medical
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Well-being
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Social support
  • Self efficacy