Principal Investigator: Justin Mausz, ACP, Ph.D.(c)
Dr. Elizabeth Donnelly, NREMT, LICSW, Ph.D.
Dr. Sandra Moll, OT, Ph.D.
Dr. Shelia Harms, MD, FRCPC
Dr. Walter Tavares, ACP, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator: Dr. Meghan McConnell, Ph.D
Funding Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research Catalyst Grant #201809PPS
Timeline: March 2019 to March 2020
Design: Convergent Parallel Mixed Methods
Current Status: Ongoing, Enrolling Participants
In this series of studies, my team and I are using a convergent, parallel mixed methods approach, gathering both quantitative and qualitative data simultaneously to explore how the social and cultural characteristics of paramedic work influence mental health and wellbeing. This research program builds on a comprehensive review of the paramedic mental health literature I undertook and is broadly intended to fill several gaps in our understanding about the unique needs of the paramedic community. Our objectives are to:
Obtain methodologically-rigorous estimates of the prevalence of operational stress injury among paramedics
Explore the relationship between theoretically-plausible predictors and the risk of developing an operational stress injury
Qualitatively unpack the broader sociocultural context of the paramedic profession
Qualitative Component: Unpacking Identity & Culture
In the qualitative component, we are using a constructivist grounded theory methodology to explore how paramedic identity and professional culture influence mental health and wellbeing. Drawing on role identity theory, our goal is to understand what it means to be a paramedic and how this idea of paramedic identity affects how paramedics cope with stress, ask for help, and experience various forms of operational stress injury. Our research questions include:
How does the role identity of being a paramedic influence coping, help-seeking, and world view?
What do paramedics value in a psychologically healthy and supportive workplace?
How does the gendered nature of paramedic work affect mental health and wellbeing?
What is the experience of paramedics living with an operational stress injury?
How do paramedics who have taken a mental health leave reintegrate into the workplace?
This involves recruiting a purposively-selected group of paramedics to participate in two-stage, semi-structured interviews. The first interview follows a biographical narrative approach and is intended to explore the background of the paramedic and their work experiences, while the second interview addresses our research questions in more specific detail. This work is being conducted in a single paramedic service in Ontario, Canada, and interviewing is currently underway.
Quantitative Component: Exploring Prevalence & Risk Factors
In the quantitative study, we are undertaking a cross-sectional investigation of the prevalence of various forms of operational stress injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and professional quality of life. This involves distributing a survey to all paramedics in a single paramedic service in Ontario, Canada to capture demographic information and measure operational stress injury symptom levels. We are exploring the relationship between several potential risk factors (such as age, biological sex, gender, years of experience, and motivations for paramedic work) and the risk of having symptoms consistent with operational stress injury.
This work is being conducted in a single paramedic service in Ontario, Canada and enrolment is expected to commence in the fall of 2019.