Exploring paramedic communication and emotional expression in the workplace after responding to emergency calls

Cheryl Drewitz-Chesney

Abstract


Introduction

Paramedics are at risk of developing mental distress and disorders when exposed to traumatic calls. Several studies demonstrate that when individuals are exposed to a traumatic event, there is a correlation between a lack of social support and emotional expression, and the development of disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Unfortunately, little is known about the social support that paramedics receive from their peers, particularly in the workplace after responding to traumatic calls.

Methods

The study aim was to learn about peer communication and emotional expression between paramedics in the workplace, after they respond to calls. This qualitative study was guided by constructivist, grounded theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight paramedics who worked for British Columbia Emergency Health Services in Canada.

Results

Two components of communication were described by participants: the content and logistics of peer communication. Content comprised of three types of peer communication: positive, negative and neutral, with the latter two potentially harmful to paramedics. Logistically, participants desired time to speak privately in the ambulance after calls, preferably with their regular partner or a peer with traits easing communication. These traits were identified as being comfortable with, trusting, sharing similarities and knowing one’s partner.

Conclusion

Employers should facilitate positive peer communication among paramedics while considering the communication preferences described in this study. This could help to reduce rates of mental distress and disorders in paramedics.


Keywords


paramedic or emergency medical technician; communication; emotion; social support; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); depression

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.33151/ajp.16.714

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