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Sensation Seeking as It Relates to Burnout Among Emergency Medical Personnel: A Texas Study

  • Chwee Lye Chng (a1) and Starr Eaddy (a2)

Burnout among emergency medical personnel (emergency medical personne) is suspected, but largely unsupported in the literature. An investigation of the phenomenon of burnout and factors contributing to its existence are essential steps in designingeffective interventions.

Research Questions:

Three research questions were proposed: 1) Are EMP sensation seekers as measured by Arnett's Inventory of Sensation Seeking? 2) Are EMP burnt out as measured by Revicki's Work-Related Strain Inventory? 3) Is there a relationship between sensation seeking and burnout among EMP?


Emergency medical personnel attending a statewide conference in Texas, USA in late 1996 completed 425 survey instruments measuring sensation seeking and burnout as well as demographic items. Survey instruments were included in each registrant's conference package. Completed surveys were deposited anonymously in labeled receptacles throughout the statewide conference site. Data collection ceased at the end of the conference.


Emergency Medical Personne had significantly higher sensation–seeking total and intensity sub–scale scores than the general public. Full–time employees reported more sensation–seeking than volunteers or part–time employees. The younger the Emergency Medical Personne, the greater were their reported sensation seeking tendencies. Emergency Medical Personne reported more burnout in 1996 than in 1991. The older the Emergency Medical Personne, the lower was the reported level of burnout. Emergency Medical Personne who sought counseling for a work–related event reported more burnout than those who did not. Paid full–time Emergency Medical Personne reported higher burnout than did volunteers. There was a weak but positive correlation between sensation seeking and burnout, suggesting that these two dimensions may be unrelated.


The field of emergency medical services attracts sensation seekers, and Emergency Medical Personne today report more burnout than their counterparts did in 1991. Although Emergency Medical Personne appear to be high in sensation seeking, this dimension alone does not protect them from the effects of burnout.

Corresponding author
Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation University of North Texas PO Box 311337 Denton, Texas USA 76203–1337 E-mail:
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
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