The role of individual factors in the mental health of NHS ambulance personnel

02 August 2022
Volume 14 · Issue 8



An estimated 27% of ambulance personnel experience general psychological distress. The relationship between work and mental health is complex.


This study aimed to explore whether and to what extent individual factors affect the mental health of ambulance personnel.


Four UK NHS ambulance trusts facilitated recruitment of ambulance personnel (n=160). Well-validated measures were used to collect data on the predictor variables: the Perceived Stress Scale; the Satisfaction with Life Scale; and the Brief Resilience Scale. Mental health, assessed according to response to trauma measured by the Impact of Events Scale Revised (IES-r), and anxiety and depression, measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), were the outcome measures.


Regression models demonstrated that all predictor variables accounted for nearly half of the variance in each outcome (P<0.01).


A significant proportion of variance was accounted for by individual factors. This assists in understanding the impact and role of individual factors in the mental health of this occupational group. Future research could inform intervention development.

It is widely accepted that working in the emergency services is challenging (Wild et al, 2016; Petrie et al, 2018); ambulance personnel belong to this occupational group. Ambulance workers are often exposed to unpredictable and potentially traumatic situations (Wild et al, 2016), alongside organisational issues and increasing pressures (Wankhade et al, 2019).

Such circumstances have negative effects on emotional and physical health (Courtney et al, 2010; Donnelly, 2012; Wild et al, 2016), though the mechanisms that influence these outcomes are unclear. This paper aims to explore to what extent individual factors (resilience, satisfaction with life and perceived stress) affect ambulance personnel mental health, with the authors considering anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms as mental health outcomes as determined by the data collection scales used (Weiss, 2007; Zigmond et al, 1983).

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