Risk factors, work-related stressors and social support for ambulance personnel in New Zealand : an exploration of organisational and operational stressors and the importance of perceived social support : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Ambulance personnel have one of the most stressful jobs across a wide range of occupations, and frequently experience operational and organisational stressors and are exposed to an increased level of traumatic events. As a result of these work-related stressors, ambulance personnel can experience psychological distress, specifically, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and depression. A frequently researched coping strategy used to protect against psychological distress is social support. Thus, this research provides an exploration of work-related stressors, psychological distress and the impact social support can have on psychological distress for New Zealand ambulance personnel. A total of 183 ambulance personnel participated in the current research by completing an online survey. The final sample consisted of 125 ambulance personnel. Results showed that direct traumatic exposure, organisational stressors, male gender, and perceived support significantly associated with psychological distress. Operational stress did not relate to psychological distress, and organisational stress was more strongly related to depression. Perceived social support predicted both depression and PTSS, whereas received support did not predict either type of psychological distress. Perceived support was mildly associated with received support, depression and all three sources of support (spouse/family, colleagues and supervisors). Received support was not associated with either type of psychological distress, although did show a relationship with spouse/family support and supervisor support. Spouse/family support was perceived as the strongest source of support, followed by colleague support and lastly supervisor support. Social support did not impact the relationship between direct traumatic exposure and PTSS. Implications of these results are discussed. This research contributes to the literature focused on work-related stressors, and perceived support, highlighting the important impact both organisational stressors and perceived support can have on ambulance personnel. It is hoped that conclusions drawn from this research will have beneficial implications for ambulance personnel, their families and the organisations in which they work in.
Ambulance drivers, Job stress, Social networks, New Zealand, Psychology