The impact of working shifts: exploring the views of UK paramedics


There is limited research within the UK investigating the effects of shift work on paramedics. Paramedics have relatively high rates of sickness levels and there are links between shift work and health. This study explores UK paramedics’ perceptions of the impact of working shifts.Methods:Exploratory qualitative research was utilised to investigate the perceptions of UK paramedics on the impacts of working shifts. Two focus groups were completed involving 11 paramedics. The transcriptions were analysed using thematic analysis.Results:Paramedics described factors associated with working shifts that mirror research already completed within different occupations: effects on physical health, fatigue, family life, safety and performance; but paramedics additionally described factors that are more limited to working in the paramedic profession such as a broader range of psychological stressors and organisational factors. The theme of psychological health was a wider theme that went beyond shift work and encompassed the overall paramedic role and the unique and stressful nature of the work.Conclusions:This research has allowed an insight into the perceived effects of shift work on UK paramedics and exposes the challenges paramedics face in their working environment. There is a suggested link between the relatively high rates of sickness and the effects of shift work and paramedics’ overall working environment. Further exploration and recognition of the effects of shift work on UK paramedics is recommended.

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