Risks of post-traumatic stress disorder among emergency medical technicians who responded to the 2016 Taiwan earthquake

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Background: Few studies have explored the field experiences and risk factors related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among disaster rescue workers. Methods: A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck southern Taiwan on February 6, 2016. A standardized, paper-based, self-administered survey questionnaire including demographic information, field experiences and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) was conducted among emergency medical technicians (EMTs) one month after the earthquake. A multivariate regression model was used to analyze the associations between risk factors and the PCL. A two-sided p value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: The survey response rate was 86.1% (447/519). The respondents who exceeded the cut-off points for the re-experience, avoidance, or hyperarousal domains were 11.8%, 2.7%, or 4.7%, respectively. A proportion of 12.7% of respondents met partial PTSD. The personality characteristics of anxiety (p < 0.001), perfectionism (p = 0.023) and introvert tendency (p = 0.002) were significantly correlated with partial PTSD. Emergency medical services (EMS) were significantly associated with partial PTSD than other main tasks (p < 0.001). The prevalence of partial PTSD was higher but was not significantly different in the groups of lower educational level, longer EMT careers, earlier arrival date, fewer field working hours, or managing dead people. Both univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that an anxious personality and EMS as the main task during the missions were significantly associated with PTSD risk. Conclusion: Not only personality characteristics but also the task components could alter the PTSD risks in disasters. A broad realization of these risks may improve the mental outcomes of disaster rescuers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1360-1371
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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