ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202201.0368.v2
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Public Safety Personnel; First Responders; Mental Disorders; Mental Health; Well-Being; Trauma; Operational Stress Injuries; Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries; Resilience; Peer Support; Paramedics; Emergency Medical Services
Online: 27 January 2022 (13:57:44 CET)
There is growing recognition in research and policy of a mental health crisis among Canada’s paramedics but despite this, epidemiological surveillance of the problem is in its infancy. Just weeks before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we surveyed paramedics from a single, large, urban paramedic service in Ontario, Canada to assess for symptom clusters consistent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder and to identify potential risk factors for each. In total, we received 589 completed surveys (a 97% completion rate) and found that 11% screened positive for PTSD, 15% for depression, and 15% for anxiety, with 1 in 4 active-duty paramedics screening positive for any of the three as recently as February 2020. In adjusted analyses, the risk of a positive screen varied as a function of employment classification, gender, self-reported resilience, and previous experience as a member of the service’s peer support team. Our findings support the position that paramedics screen positive for mental disorders at high rates – a problem likely to have worsened since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We echo the calls of researchers and policymakers for urgent action to support paramedic mental health in Canada.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202201.0198.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: Public Safety Personnel; First Responders; Mental Disorders; Mental Health; Well-Being; Trauma; Operational Stress Injuries; Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries; Role Identity Theory; Qualitative Research
Online: 14 January 2022 (08:31:02 CET)
Role identity theory describes the purpose and meaning in life that comes, in part, from occupying social roles. While robustly linked to health and well-being, this may become, however, when an individual is unable to fulfil the perceived requirements of an especially salient role in the way that they believe they should. Amid high rates of mental illness among public safety personnel, we interviewed a purposely selected sample of 21 paramedics from a single service in Ontario, Canada to explore incongruence between an espoused and able-to-enact paramedic role identity. Situated in an interpretivist epistemology, and using successive rounds of thematic analysis, we developed a framework for role identity dissonance wherein chronic, identity-relevant disruptive events cause emotional and psychological distress. While some participants were able to recalibrate their sense of self and understanding of the role, for others, this dissonance was irreconcilable, contributing to disability and lost time from work. In addition to contributing a novel perspective on paramedic mental health and well-being, our work also offers a modest contribution to the theory in using the paramedic context as an example to consider identity disruption through chronic workplace stress.