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Posttraumatic stress symptom severity, prevalence and impact in ambulance clinicians: The hidden extent of distress in the emergency services

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    Rights statement: ©American Psychological Association, 2019. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/trm0000191

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Early online date7 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2019


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is reported to be more prevalent in ambulance clinicians than the general population. Given the high frequency of exposure to high stress and traumatic situations over the course of an ambulance clinician’s career, the current study examined the prevalence of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms and the severity of distress related to these symptoms in this population. A total of 508 ambulance clinicians, including paramedics and technicians, completed the Life Events Checklist- Five and the Impact of Events Scale—Revised. Severity of distress associated with PTS symptoms was determined by using commonly used clinical cut-off scores. Nearly 50% of ambulance clinicians reported distress arising from symptoms of PTS of severity sufficient to be of clinical concern. Over 23% reported severe levels of distress. Results indicate concerning levels of distress relating to PTS within the ambulance service. Anchoring PTS to an index event and measuring duration of symptoms relative to that event is likely not accounting for the complex interaction of previous and further exposures on presentation. This may mask the extent of the impact of trauma exposure in populations with recurrent exposure to distressing situations.

    Research areas

  • post-traumatic stress, emergency services, ambulance clinician, emergency medical technician, paramedic

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