Critical incident exposure in South African emergency services personnel: prevalence and associated mental health issues

SOURCE: Emergency Medicine Journal
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2006
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.L.Ward, C.J.Lombard, N.Gwebushe
KEYWORDS: AMBULANCE SERVICES, EMERGENCY SERVICES, HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH, WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 3703

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Abstract

Exposure to traumatic stressors is potentially an integral part of the job for emergency services personnel. Traumatic stressors, or critical incidents, are those in which personnel are exposed to death or life threatening injury. In addition to the risk of mortality, serious mental health and behavioural problems are associated with such traumatic exposure. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. This study addresses the gaps in the literature by assessing prevalence of exposure to critical incidents and of mental health problems, in a representative sample of emergency services personnel in the developing world context of the Western Cape Province, South Africa.