Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The role of organizational culture in normalizing paramedic exposure to violence

Version 1 : Received: 15 January 2022 / Approved: 19 January 2022 / Online: 19 January 2022 (16:04:48 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Mausz, J., Johnston, M. and Donnelly, E.A. (2021), "The role of organizational culture in normalizing paramedic exposure to violence", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-06-2021-0607 Mausz, J., Johnston, M. and Donnelly, E.A. (2021), "The role of organizational culture in normalizing paramedic exposure to violence", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-06-2021-0607

Journal reference: Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research 2021
DOI: 10.1108/JACPR-06-2021-0607

Abstract

Purpose Violence against paramedics is a complex – but underreported – problem. Extant research suggests organizational culture may play a role in sustaining cultural norms that downplay the significance and limit reporting. Our objective was to qualitatively explore paramedics’ experience with violence, with particular emphasis on understanding how organizational culture contributes to under-reporting. Approach We surveyed paramedics from a single, large, urban service in Ontario, Canada, asking participants to describe their experiences with violence, including whether – and why or why not – the incidents were reported. Within a constructivist epistemology, we used inductive thematic analysis with successive rounds of coding to identify and then define features of organizational culture that limit reporting. Findings A total of 196 (33% of eligible) paramedics completed the survey. Fully 98% of participants disclosed having experienced some form of violence; however only a minority (40%) reported the incidents to management, or the police (21%). We defined a framework within which a lack of support from management, and consequences for offenders, implicitly positions the ability of paramedics to “brush off” violent encounters as an expected professional competency. Disclosing emotional or psychological distress in response to violent encounters invited questions as to whether the individual is personally suited to paramedic work. Originality While the extant research has indicated that underreporting is a problem, our findings shed light on why – a critical first step in addressing what has been described as a serious public health problem.

Keywords

Paramedic; Violence; Qualitative Research; Operational Stress Injury; Mental Health

Subject

SOCIAL SCIENCES, Accounting

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