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PP13 Understanding sickness absence in the ambulance service
  1. Laura Simmons1,2,
  2. Graham Law2,
  3. Zahid Asghar2,
  4. Ruth Gaunt3,
  5. A Niroshan Siriwardena2
  1. 1Lincoln Institute for Health, University of Lincoln, UK
  2. 2Community and Health Research Unit, University of Lincoln, UK
  3. 3School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, UK


Background Ambulance service employees have high sickness absence rates compared to other National Health Service (NHS) occupations. The aim of this study was to understand factors linked to sickness absence in front-line ambulance service staff by determining whether there was an association between work and daily (non-work-related) stress, coping styles, demographic variables (health conditions, overtime hours, length of time in service, shift pattern, age and sex) and sickness absence.

Methods We used a cross-sectional design. An opportunity sampling method was utilised to recruit full-time clinical and management employees from a UK ambulance service to complete an online questionnaire. Multiple linear regression was used to determine whether and to what extent variation in sickness absence could be explained by the independent variables of interest listed.

Results A total of 101 participants, including paramedics, team leaders and ambulance technicians, completed the questionnaire. Participants were aged 24 to 62 years (Mean [M]=45.29, Standard Deviation [SD]=9.97) with an average 13.8 years in the service (SD=9.67). Sickness absence rates ranged from 0 to 83.3% (M=8.92, SD=14.99). Work and daily stress, coping styles, overtime hours and the presence of a health condition accounted for 17.5% of the variance in sickness absence with adjusted R2 =13.2%. Work and daily stress, coping styles, overtime hours and the presence of a health condition significantly predicted sickness absence, F(5, 95) =4.039, p=0.002. Those with a health condition were 9.46 times more likely, on average, to have a leave of sickness absence.

Conclusions Our findings suggest that the presence of a health condition may affect sickness absence more than stress and coping styles. When designing interventions, it may be important to consider preventative measures that improve staff well-being and health status while also reducing sickness absence rates.

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