Low self-reported stress despite immune-physiological changes in paramedics during rescue operations

Corinna Peifer, Vera Hagemann, Maren Claus, Mauro F. Larra, Fabienne Aust, Marvin Kühn, Monika Owczarek, Peter Bröde, Marlene Pacharra, Holger Steffens, Carsten Watzl, Edmund Wascher, Silvia Capellino*

*Corresponding author for this work


Despite the high stress levels, paramedics seem to ignore or even negate the stress. This can be detrimental and lead to stress-related diseases. Therefore, we investigated the divergence between physiological and psychological stress responses of paramedics. Participants were 16 paramedics and 17 white-collar workers. We assessed psychological stress parameters, cortisol awakening response (CAR), and quantified immune parameters. In par-amedics, electrocardiogram (ECG) was measured during one complete 24-hour shift. Our results revealed that CAR was higher in paramedics compared to controls. An alteration of immune parameters was observed even during days of free time. Also, ECG recordings showed acute stress in paramedics during rescue situations. Questionnaires revealed that rescue-service specific stressors affect psychological outcomes. However, paramedics reported significantly less mental stress and higher levels of depersonalization than controls. Taken together, our results suggest higher stress in paramedics compared to controls. However, paramedics negate their daily stress. Our findings underline therefore the importance to develop stress-management interventions for paramedics including sensitization for their stress reactions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEXCLI Journal
Pages (from-to)792-811
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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