Prehospital spirituality: How well do we know ambulance patients?

Timothy Jang, George D. Kryder, Douglas Char, Randy Howell, Joseph Primrose, David Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the religious spirituality of EMS personnel and their perception of the spiritual needs of ambulance patients. Methods: Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics presenting to an urban, academic emergency department (ED) were asked to complete a three-part survey relating to demographics, personal practices, and perceived patient needs. Their responses were compared to those of ambulance patients presenting to an ED during a previous study period and administered a similar survey. Results: A total of 143 EMTs and 89 paramedics returned the surveys. There were 161 (69.4%) male and 71 (30.6%) female respondents with a median age range of 26-35 years old. Eighty-seven percent believed in God, 82% practiced prayer or meditation, 62% attended religious services occasionally, 55% belonged to a religious organization, 39% felt that their beliefs affected their job, and 18% regularly read religious material. This was similar to the characteristics of ambulance patients. However, only 43% felt that occasionally ambulance patients presented with spiritual concerns and 78% reported never or rarely discussing spiritual issues with patients. Contrastingly, >40% of ambulance patients reported spiritual needs or concerns at the time of ED presentation, and >50% wanted their providers to discuss their beliefs. Twenty-six percent of respondents reported praying or meditating with patients, while 50% reported praying or meditating for patients. Females were no more religious or spiritual than males, but were more likely to engage in prayer with (OR = 2.38, p = 0.0049) or for (OR = 6.45, p <0.0001) patients than their male counterparts. Conclusion: EMTs and paramedics did not perceive spiritual concerns as often as reported by ambulance patients, nor did they commonly inquire about the religious/spiritual needs of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-361
Number of pages6
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004


  • emergency medical technician (EMT)
  • paramedic
  • spirituality


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