Stress and Coping: Exploring the nature of resilience in UK Paramedic Practice

Authors: Phillips, P.

Conference: EMS Gathering 2017

Dates: 3-5 May 2017

Journal: Irish Journal of Paramedicine

Volume: 2

Issue: 1

Place of Publication: Ireland



Ambulance staff consistently have the highest levels of absenteeism in the National Health Service (NHS) (NHS 2016). Latest statistics show that 30% of sickness absence in the NHS is due to stress (NHS 2016). Ambulance staff report the highest levels of stress within the NHS, some trusts as high as 40% (NHS 2016). Evidence suggests that United Kingdom (UK) ambulance staff have higher levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (15-22%), depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance substance misuse and suicide then the general population (Shepherd and Wild 2011, Beaton 2006, Smith and Roberts 2003, Wieclaw et al 2006). However, little is known about the daily stressors that UK ambulance staff face and how they try to cope with this stress.


This research presents the progress of a doctoral study exploring the nature of resilience in UK Paramedics. It defines the problem, presents a review of the literature and highlights the need for research in this area. This presentation will then discuss the design of research to rigorously explore the research question.


A literature review was carried out to identify what is currently known about resilience in Paramedic Practice. Following this a longitudinal mixed-methods research project was designed to both objectively measure resilience in Paramedics, and to subjectively gain an understanding of resilience from the Paramedic’s viewpoint.


There is a limited amount of evidence suggesting that the role of a Paramedic is stressful, and that within the ambulance service there are high levels of poor mental health and poor coping. However, research has not explored the nature of stress in the ambulance service, nor the ways in which Paramedics try to cope. This research is designed to explore these aspects further.

Source: Manual