Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Emergency dispatchers suffer from symptoms of PTSD, study reveals

Indirect exposure to traumatic incidents can lead to psychological disorders

Dispatchers who answer 911 and 999 emergency calls suffer emotional distress which can lead to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a new study reports. The research, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, reveals that direct exposure to traumatic events is not necessary to lead to post-trauma disorders.

The research was conducted by Dr Michelle Lilly from Northern Illinois University and researcher Heather Pierce, a former 911 dispatcher.

"Post-Traumatic psychological disorders are usually associated with front line emergency workers, such as police officers, fire fighters or combat veterans," said Dr Lilly. "Usually research considers links between disorders and how much emotional distress is experienced on the scene of a traumatic event. However, this is the first study on emergency dispatchers, who experience the trauma indirectly."

The research analyzed the responses of 171 currently serving emergency dispatchers from 24 US states. The majority of the sample was female and Caucasian, with an average age of 38 and over 11 years of service.

The dispatchers were asked about the types of potentially traumatic calls they handle and the amount of emotional distress they experienced. They were also asked to rate the types of calls which caused the most distress and to remember the worst call they had dealt with during their career.

The most commonly identified worst calls were the unexpected injury or death of a child, 16.4%, followed by suicidal callers, 12.9%, shootings involving officers, 9.9%, and calls involving the unexpected death of an adult, 9.9%.

The results showed that levels of peritraumatic distress, distress experienced during or after an event, reported by dispatchers was high and occurred in reaction to an average of 32% of potentially traumatic calls. A further 3.5% of the sample reported symptoms severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These results are a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate on defining a traumatic event, which takes place as official guidelines are set to be published in 2013. This research supports a broad definition as it shows dispatchers experience significant levels of emotional distress at work even though they are not physically present during a traumatic event, or even know the victim of a trauma.

"Our research is the first to reveal the extent of emotional distress experienced by emergency dispatchers while on duty," concluded Pierce. "The results show the need to provide these workers with prevention and intervention support as is currently provided for their frontline colleagues. This includes briefings and training in ways to handle emotional distress."

Jennifer Beal | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>