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The role of organizational culture in normalizing paramedic exposure to violence

The role of organizational culture in normalizing paramedic exposure to violence Violence against paramedics is a complex – but underreported – problem. Extant research suggests organizational culture may play a role in sustaining cultural norms that downplay the significance and limit reporting. The purpose of this paper is to qualitatively explore paramedics’ experience with violence, with particular emphasis on understanding how organizational culture contributes to under-reporting.Design/methodology/approachThe authors surveyed paramedics from a single, large, urban service in Ontario, Canada, asking participants to describe their experiences with violence, including whether – and why or why not – the incidents were reported. Within a constructivist epistemology, we used inductive thematic analysis with successive rounds of coding to identify and then define features of organizational culture that limit reporting.FindingsA total of 196 (33% of eligible) paramedics completed the survey. Fully 98% of participants disclosed having experienced some form of violence; however, only a minority (40%) reported the incidents to management, or the police (21%). The authors defined a framework within which a lack of support from management, and consequences for offenders, implicitly positions the ability of paramedics to “brush off” violent encounters as an expected professional competency. Disclosing emotional or psychological distress in response to violent encounters invited questions as to whether the individual is personally suited to paramedic work.Originality/valueWhile the extant research has indicated that underreporting is a problem, the findings shed light on why – a critical first step in addressing what has been described as a serious public health problem. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research Emerald Publishing

The role of organizational culture in normalizing paramedic exposure to violence

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1759-6599
eISSN
1759-6599
DOI
10.1108/jacpr-06-2021-0607
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Violence against paramedics is a complex – but underreported – problem. Extant research suggests organizational culture may play a role in sustaining cultural norms that downplay the significance and limit reporting. The purpose of this paper is to qualitatively explore paramedics’ experience with violence, with particular emphasis on understanding how organizational culture contributes to under-reporting.Design/methodology/approachThe authors surveyed paramedics from a single, large, urban service in Ontario, Canada, asking participants to describe their experiences with violence, including whether – and why or why not – the incidents were reported. Within a constructivist epistemology, we used inductive thematic analysis with successive rounds of coding to identify and then define features of organizational culture that limit reporting.FindingsA total of 196 (33% of eligible) paramedics completed the survey. Fully 98% of participants disclosed having experienced some form of violence; however, only a minority (40%) reported the incidents to management, or the police (21%). The authors defined a framework within which a lack of support from management, and consequences for offenders, implicitly positions the ability of paramedics to “brush off” violent encounters as an expected professional competency. Disclosing emotional or psychological distress in response to violent encounters invited questions as to whether the individual is personally suited to paramedic work.Originality/valueWhile the extant research has indicated that underreporting is a problem, the findings shed light on why – a critical first step in addressing what has been described as a serious public health problem.

Journal

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace ResearchEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 5, 2022

Keywords: Violence; Qualitative research; Reporting; Mental health; Paramedic; Operational stress injury

References