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Sleep Patterns and Physiological Markers of Stress in Graduate Ambulance Paramedics

Principal Investigator: Dr Renee Dwyer
Student Researcher: Mr Jason Betson (Master of Medical Science)


Starting shift work and adjusting to a high pressure environments has been linked to disrupted sleep patterns, stress, fatigue and increased risk of chronic disease.  In addition, there are potentially concerning effects on clinical decision making, patient care and the safety of ambulance paramedics and the general public.  This study represents an important step toward quantifying the effects of standard ambulance rostering on paramedic graduates new to the service and will enable further research into the consequences for patient care.

What are the benefits of the research project?

This research aims to benefit the individual health and wellbeing of ambulance employees, and positively impact on the proficiency of the paramedic workforce as a whole, by:

  • allowing graduate paramedics to obtain a better understanding of their sleep patterns and the stress they may experience while adjusting to the demands of a new work environment.
  • enabling students to monitor themselves for signs of stress and fatigue, and assist them to develop strategies to manage the demands of shift work in a highly stressful environment, early in their careers;
  • instilling sleep management awareness in early career paramedics.
  • assessing the effect of rostering schedules on decision making and patient care
  • informing policy and guidelines on the introduction of shift work in graduates.

How much time will the project take?

You will be asked to commit to this project for 6 months, with data collection occurring for short intervals during this period.  Follow-up data may be collected in the future and you may be asked if you would like to be involved in further research.

Can I withdraw from the study?

Participation in this study is completely voluntary. You are not under any obligation to participate. If you agree to participate, you can withdraw from the study at any time without adverse consequences for your employment with Ambulance Victoria.

Exclusion from the study

The study will not include participants with diagnosed sleep disorders, or who are taking medication which affects the central nervous system or sleep regulation (e.g. medications for epilepsy, anxiety, mood disorders, sleeping tablets such as Stilnox or benzodiazepines, or melatonin). Potential participants will be advised of this restriction during recruitment information presentations.

Involvement in the study, privacy and collected data.

  • This research is being conducted by the University of Tasmania
  • All participants will be given a subject ID code for the purposes of the study.  Your individual data will be kept confidential and will not be accessible by the Ambulance service.  The Ambulance Service and other funding bodies may be offered de-identified collated data on request.
  • All information will be kept confidential; electronic data will be kept on a password-secured computer and your results will only be identified by a subject ID code.  Physical documents will be kept in a locked cabinet inside a locked office at ACU.
  • If requested, participants will be given copies of their collected data.
  • Any collected samples (eg. Saliva) will be used only for the purpose of measuring hormones and stress markers in line with the aims of the study.  Samples will be securely disposed of at the completion of the study.

Will anyone else know the results of the project?

The project findings will be initially published in a research dissertation being undertaken by the student researcher. All data will be de-identified after analysis and stored securely at ACU or the Medical Science Precinct (University of Tasmania).  Project findings will be published in peer reviewed journals, and results will be presented in a format that does not identify participants in any way.

Will I be able to find out the results of the project?

Participants are encouraged to contact the researchers at the conclusion of the project to access general, non-identifiable, information regarding the project findings.

Who do I contact if I have questions about the project?

If you any questions regarding the research project please contact the student researcher, Mr Jason Betson, via phone or email, using the details below:

(03) 9953 3503 or jbetson@utas.edu.au

What if I have a complaint or any concerns?

This study has been approved by the Tasmanian Health and Medical Human Research Ethics Committee.  If you have concerns or complaints about the conduct of this study should contact the Executive Officer of the HREC (Tasmania) Network on (03) 6226 6254 or email human.ethics@utas.edu.au.  The Executive Officer is the person nominated to receive complaints from research participants. You will need to quote reference number: H0015110.


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