López, Dahianna, PhD
Nursing, College of
EMS; Mental Health
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Mental health is a significant problem in the United States. In the prehospital setting, it is not prioritized like other medical conditions, and therefore, does not receive the same quality of treatment. Emergency Medical Service providers (EMS providers) play a significant role in caring for people experiencing mental health emergencies, as many of these people come to the hospital via ambulance. EMS providers are responsible for providing quality prehospital care, effectively communicating, and advocating for patients during the transfer of care to emergency department staff. This transfer of care is one of the first steps toward quality treatment and continuity of care. Unfortunately, EMS providers in the United States receive inadequate training on mental health. Many have minimal lecture time and little-to-no clinical or didactic training for patients experiencing mental health crises before they experience it on the job.
This was a cross-sectional study of 31 EMS providers at the University of Rhode Island. Participants answered a 15-question survey regarding their mental health education and overall comfortability and satisfaction with mental health education for EMS providers. Data were subjected to Chi-squared statistical tests and logistic regression modeling. Almost half of the participants surveyed feel they did not receive adequate mental health education. Additionally, 100% of participants felt that mental health education for EMS providers should be improved and that an improvement in education would lead to better patient outcomes. In addition to the survey, this study evaluates the most recent literature on mental illness education and training among EMS providers, seeking to discover the barriers in accessing this education and training. Ultimately, EMS providers must receive adequate education and training to decrease stigma and barriers to care.