Does mental health literacy influence confidence and attitudes of paramedics when managing patients with mental illness and suicidal ideations?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Mental illness is one of the most prevalent health problems globally. In Australia, it is estimated that one in five Australians are diagnosed with a common mental illness each year. In 1992, the decentralisation of mental health services in Australia and the relocation of people living with mental illness from institutionalised care into mainstream society, resulted in a significant increase in the number of patients presenting to primary health care professionals such as paramedics as well as emergency departments for assistance with mental illness. The aim of this research was to investigate the attitudes, knowledge and confidence of Ambulance Tasmania (AT) paramedics when assessing and managing patients with mental illness presentations.
The research comprised a sequential exploratory mixed methods approach with two phases. Phase one was conducted using a semi structured face to face interview, while phase two was conducted as an online survey. Convenience sampling measures were used to recruit Ambulance Tasmania paramedics in phase one and two. Thematic analysis of qualitative data was analysed using two different approaches: the traditional manual method and also by use of Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS). Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).
Education and training in mental health for paramedics was found to be inadequate and reported to impact patient care and the paramedic/patient experience. In addition to the impact on paramedic confidence, a deficit of education and training was also linked to increased levels of stigma towards patients with mental illness.
This research paves the way for the implementation of a national education package and national guidelines to support the development of mental health literacy for paramedics and the delivery of effective care to patients with mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Tasmania
  • Clifford, C, Principal Supervisor, External person
  • Pearson, S, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date18 Dec 2019
Place of PublicationTasmania, Australia
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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