Current state of knowledge of post-traumatic stress, sleeping problems, obesity and cardiovascular disease in paramedics
- Sandrine Hegg-Deloye1,2,
- Patrice Brassard1,
- Nathalie Jauvin2,
- Jérôme Prairie1,3,
- Dominique Larouche1,3,
- Paul Poirier4,
- Angelo Tremblay1,
- Philippe Corbeil1,3
- 1Department of Kinesiology, Université Laval, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- 2ÉQUIPE RIPOST, Centre de Santé et de Service Sociaux de la Vieille Capitale (CAU), Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- 3Vieillissement, Centre de recherche FRSQ du Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- 4Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec, Université Laval, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
- Correspondence to Dr Philippe Corbeil, Department of Kinesiology, Université Laval, Pavillon des sports et de l'éducation physique, Local 0212, 2300 rue de la terrasse, Quebec, Canada QC G1V 0A6;
- Received 21 June 2012
- Revised 15 October 2012
- Accepted 6 December 2012
- Published Online First 12 January 2013
Purpose The impacts of emergency work on firefighters have been well documented and summarised, but this is not the case for paramedics. This paper explores the literature regarding the impact of work stress on paramedics.
Objective To identify the literature available on the effect of paramedics’ jobs on their health status.
Methods Electronic database used: MEDLINE (Ovid, PubMed, National Library of Medicine) between 2000 and 2011. Key words used for the computer searches were: paramedics, emergency responders, emergency workers, shift workers, post-traumatic symptoms, obesity, stress, heart rate variability, physiological response, blood pressure, cardiovascular and cortisol. Exclusion criteria were: studies in which participants were not paramedics, participants without occupational exposure, physical fitness assessment in paramedics and epidemiological reports regarding death at work.
Results The electronic databases cited 42 articles, of which we excluded 17; thus, 25 articles are included in this review. It seems clear that paramedics accumulate a set of risk factors, including acute and chronic stress, which may lead to development of cardiovascular diseases. Post-traumatic disorders, sleeping disorders and obesity are prevalent among emergency workers. Moreover, their employers use no inquiry or control methods to monitor their health status and cardiorespiratory fitness.
Conclusions More studies are needed to characterise paramedics’ behaviour at work. These studies could allow the development of targeted strategies to prevent health problems reported in paramedics.