Occupational stress, paramedic informal coping strategies: a review of the literature


Frontline ambulance staff have high rates of sickness absence; far greater than any other National Health Service worker. Reports suggest that many of these instances are attributable to stress, anxiety and depression. Indeed, studies have observed that occupational stress is significant within the Ambulance Service. While academics frequently associate the causative factor as being related to traumatic incident exposure, there is a small, growing trend of researchers who have found that daily hassles are equally, if not a greater source of stress. Many of the studies investigating the psychological aftermath of a stressful occupational experience focus on formal coping strategies such as critical incident debriefing and trauma risk incident management. However, it has been found that paramedics often prefer to manage stressful feelings informally within their own occupational culture. This literature review explored these informal coping strategies, and found that cognitive mechanisms and peer support were the most used methods. Research in this domain is currently very limited; therefore, this review identifies several areas for further study.

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