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The Role of Spirituality in Emergency Medical Services Worker Experiences: Results from a National Survey

Author: Brian Raming PhD, MBA, NRP | Assistant Professor | Western Carolina University

Associate Authors: Deziel, Jackson, D, PhD, MPA, NRP | Kennedy, Emily

The cumulative experiences of the prehospital provider can weigh heavily on one and ultimately influence job satisfaction and external events. This study shines a light on the religious beliefs of EMS workers and potential down-stream effects. 


An electronic survey was distributed via email and social media to workers who held a prehospital provider credential. All responses were anonymous and no personally identifying data were collected. Respondents did not receive compensation for their participation. For analysis, Likert-type questions were used with the five-point scale. For tests of inference, the authors employed Chi-squared tests, logistic regression, and ordered logistic regression. Content analysis of respondent comments is still ongoing. 


The survey distribution yielded 703 responses. A majority of participants indicated connection with a spiritual belief system (84%), but half (49.8%) were members of an organized religious community. When asked, 48% of participants stated that their work in EMS had directly affected their religious views. Those who were a member of a religious community were 76% more likely to be happy with their job (OR: 1.76, p=0.030). Respondents who were active within their religious community (OR: 1.71, p=0.030) and those who had attended religious primary and/or secondary school (OR: 2.53, p=0.003) were more likely to report being religiously affected by their job. Participants who had indicated a religious effect from their job were 33% less likely to believe that their mental health needs were adequately met by their employer (OR: 0.666, p=0.048). 


The vast majority of respondents held some type of religious belief system, although only half were members of a religious community and even fewer were active within that community. The effects of the “care giver” role can be heavy for prehospital providers. As with all aspects of life, one’s religious viewpoint and belief system shapes mentality and action.