Survey of shift and work tolerance of City of Houston emergency medical service personnel

Trudy Millard Krause, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study of ambulance workers for the emergency medical services of the City of Houston studied the factors related to shiftwork tolerance and intolerance. The EMS personnel work a 24-hour shift with rotating days of the week. Workers are assigned to A, B, C, D shift, each of which rotate 24-hours on, 24-hours off, 24-hours on and 4 days off. One-hundred and seventy-six male EMTs, paramedics and chauffeurs from stations of varying levels of activity were surveyed. The sample group ranged in age from 20 to 45. The average tenure on the job was 8.2 years. Over 68% of the workers held a second job, the majority of which worked over 20 hours a week at the second position. The survey instrument was a 20-page questionnaire modeled after the Folkard Standardized Shiftwork Index. In addition to demographic data, the survey tool provided measurements of general job satisfaction, sleep quality, general health complaints, morningness/eveningness, cognitive and somatic anxiety, depression, and circadian types. The survey questionnaire included an EMS-specific scaler of stress. A conceptual model of Shiftwork Tolerance was presented to identify the key factors examined in the study. An extensive list of 265 variables was reduced to 36 key variables that related to: (1) shift schedule and demographic/lifestyle factors, (2) individual differences related to traits and characteristics, and (3) tolerance/intolerance effects. Using the general job satisfaction scaler as the key measurement of shift tolerance/intolerance, it was shown that a significant relationship existed between this dependent variable and stress, number of years working a 24-hour shift, sleep quality, languidness/vigorousness. The usual amount of sleep received during the shift, general health complaints and flexibility/rigidity (R$\sp2$ =.5073). The sample consisted of a majority of morningness-types or extreme-morningness types, few evening-types and no extreme-evening types, duplicating the findings of Motohashi's previous study of ambulance workers. The level of activity by station was not significant on any of the dependent variables examined. However, the shift worked had a relationship with sleep quality, despite the fact that all shifts work the same hours and participate in the same rotation schedule.

Subject Area

Occupational safety|Public health|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Krause, Trudy Millard, "Survey of shift and work tolerance of City of Houston emergency medical service personnel" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9610030.