High levels of stress among ambulance personnel have been attributed to the conditions of ambulance work. However, there is little research to support this notion, and it has been questioned whether ambulance work is inherently stressful. We compared the severity and frequency level of organizational and ambulance-specific stressors, and studied their relationship to organizational conditions and individual differences
A comprehensive nationwide questionnaire survey of ambulance personnel (n = 1180) in operational duty. The questionnaire included the Job Stress Survey, the Norwegian Ambulance Stress Survey, the Basic Character Inventory, General Self-Efficacy Scale, and questions addressing organizational conditions.
Serious operational tasks and physical demands were identified as the two most severe stressors. Lack of support from co-workers was the most severe and frequent organizational stressor. Higher frequency of stressors was most strongly associated with size of service districts (beta ranging between .18 and .30, p < .01) and working overtime (beta ranging from .13 to .27, p < .05). Stressor severity was related to lack of support after exposure to critical event (beta ranging from .11 to .24, p < .01) and working overtime. Neuroticism (beta ranging from .09 to .17, p < .01) and low general self-efficacy (beta ranging from -.12 to -.16, p < .001) were equally strongly related to severity of stressors, as were organizational conditions.
Ambulance-specific stressors were reported as both more severe and more frequently occurring stressors than were organizational stressors. Organizational working conditions were more strongly related to frequency of job stressors than were individual differences. In general, the relationship between occupational stressors and individual differences was weak.