Researchers seek broad participation in COVID-19 mental health survey

The study seeks to examine the impact of the pandemic on the prevalence of PTSD and depression in EMS providers

By Laura French

POTSDAM, N.Y. — Researchers at Clarkson University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are conducting a research study on the prevalence of PTSD and depression in EMS providers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The researchers are currently seeking responses for a 10-15 minute survey that will be followed up with interviews.

The researchers, two of whom are volunteer EMS providers in their local community, seek to provide a snapshot of how the current crisis is affecting the mental health and wellbeing of EMS providers across the country.

"We know that mental health, depression and suicide are prevalent among EMS providers. The current COVID crisis has added to the stress levels for providers and is likely to affect not only their mental health and wellbeing but their attitudes towards the profession," said Clarkson University Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Douglas Bohl, Ph.D., who is an AEMT with the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad. "We are conducting this study so that we can assess the levels of depression and PTSD and how COVID has affected providers at this time. We will be following this study up with a second study in about a year so that we can determine long term effects on EMS providers."

Researchers will also look at differences in the impact of the crisis between states and regions, urban, suburban and rural agencies, and volunteer and paid providers.

"We need as many EMS providers from across the country to participate in this study as possible, even those who haven't been directly impacted by the current crisis. We also need providers who aren't experiencing mental health and depression problems to participate," Bohl added. "Broad participation will allow us to get an accurate picture of the problem so that we can develop local and national strategies to serve providers and protect the profession."

The results of the survey will be released through EMS publications and websites so that providers can learn about the results directly. The researchers also intend to present their findings at EMS conferences and workshops.

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