Alcohol/substance use and occupational/post-traumatic stress in paramedics

Background: Paramedics work in high-pressure environments and experience traumatic events, which contribute to high levels of occupational and post-traumatic stress. Such stress can result in alcohol and substance misuse in other health professionals, but this relationship has not been examined in paramedics. This review is the first exploration of the literature on this. Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted using PRISMA guidelines, with databases searched using terms relevant to paramedics and alcohol/substance use. Studies were analysed using descriptive statistics for quantitative data and thematic analysis for qualitative information. Findings: Eleven studies were identified. Nine studies examined alcohol use; seven examined substance use; five examined both. Alcohol and smoking may be linked to occupational stress. Conclusions: The nature and extent of alcohol and substance use in relation to occupational and post-traumatic stress among paramedics need further investigation to facilitate advice and support.

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