Trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder and the effect of explanatory variables in paramedic trainees

Fjeldheim, Celine B. ; Nothling, Jani ; Pretorius, Karin ; Basson, Marina ; Ganasen, Keith ; Heneke, Robin ; Cloete, Karen J. ; Seedat, Soraya (2014-04)

Fjeldheim, C. B. et al. Trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder and the effect of explanatory variables in paramedic trainees. BMC Emergency Medicine, 14(1):11, doi:10.1186/1471-227X-14-11.

The original publication is available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-227X/14/11

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.

Article

Abstract Background: Emergency healthcare workers, including trainees and individuals in related occupations are at heightened risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression owing to work-related stressors. We aimed to investigate the type, frequency, and severity of direct trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress symptoms and other psychopathology amongst paramedic trainees. In order to create a risk profile for individuals who are at higher occupational risk of developing PTSD, we examined risk and resilience factors that possibly contributed to the presence and severity of posttraumatic symptomatology. Methods: Paramedic trainees (n = 131) were recruited from a local university. A logistic regression analysis was conducted using the explanatory variables age, gender, population group, trauma exposure, depression, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, resilience and social support. Results: 94% of paramedic trainees had directly experienced trauma, with 16% meeting PTSD criteria. A high rate of depression (28%), alcohol abuse (23%) and chronic perceived stress (7%) and low levels of social support was found. The number of previous trauma exposures, depression, resilience and social support significantly predicted PTSD status and depression had a mediating effect. Conclusion: There is a need for efficient, ongoing screening of depressive and PTSD symptomatology in trauma exposed high risk groups so that early psychological supportive interventions can be offered. Background Emergency healthcare workers, including trainees and individuals in related occupations are at heightened risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression owing to work-related stressors. We aimed to investigate the type, frequency, and severity of direct trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress symptoms and other psychopathology amongst paramedic trainees. In order to create a risk profile for individuals who are at higher occupational risk of developing PTSD, we examined risk and resilience factors that possibly contributed to the presence and severity of posttraumatic symptomatology. Methods Paramedic trainees (n = 131) were recruited from a local university. A logistic regression analysis was conducted using the explanatory variables age, gender, population group, trauma exposure, depression, alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, resilience and social support. Results 94% of paramedic trainees had directly experienced trauma, with 16% meeting PTSD criteria. A high rate of depression (28%), alcohol abuse (23%) and chronic perceived stress (7%) and low levels of social support was found. The number of previous trauma exposures, depression, resilience and social support significantly predicted PTSD status and depression had a mediating effect. Conclusion There is a need for efficient, ongoing screening of depressive and PTSD symptomatology in trauma exposed high risk groups so that early psychological supportive interventions can be offered.

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