Empowering paramedics in bystander conflict (EMPOWER)

December 1st, 2010 - December 1st, 2012

Project description
Is it possible for paramedics and other (emergency) service workers to guard themselves against negative effects of conflicts with bystanders? Increasingly, the Dutch media reports on conflicts between paramedics and emotionally charged bystanders. The fact that bystander conflicts pose a growing threat to public safety is recognized world-wide and calls for urgent measures to constrain their deleterious effects. In the present research project we propose a model of bystander conflict that examines the negative effect on performance when paramedics perceive their accomplishments to be frustrated by a bystander and tests interventions to counteract the negative effects. Using both experimental and field studies, we examine the effect of bystander conflict on individual-level outcomes (e.g. bystander appraisal, task performance, satisfaction) and test for differences between high and low demand situations and between individuals with high and low personal resources. Furthermore we examine the effect on team performance and the buffering effect of team resources and test the impact of interventions aimed to empower paramedics to effectively deal with bystander conflict in high-demand situations. This project contributes to theory as well as practice by (1) examining how bystander conflict affects performance in high demand (i.e. emergency) situations, (2) establishing the buffering effects of personal and team resources, and (3) developing and testing interventions to counterbalance negative effects of bystander conflict. Bystander conflict and related topics such as aggression, violence, and intimidation of paramedics are subject of public debate, both nationally and internationally. Bystander conflict threatens patient safety and reduces paramedics’ job satisfaction. Additionally, other public service workers (e.g. police officers, social service employees) also increasingly face bystander conflict. This creates a need for social scientists to design, test, and implement effective interventions to counter these problems. 

Erp, van, K. J. P. M., Giebels, E., Zee, van der, K. I., & Duijn, van, M. A. J. (2011). Expatriate adjustment: the role of justice and conflict in intimate relationships.Personal Relationships, 18(1), 58-78. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01312.x
·       Erp, van, K. J. P. M., Gevers, J. M. P., Rispens, S., & Demerouti, E. (2013). Handen af van onze hulpverleners : de impact van omstanderconflict op werknemers in de hulp- en dienstverlenende sector. Gedrag en Organisatie, 26(2), 133-155.
·       Erp, van, K. J. P. M., Zee, van der, K. I., Giebels, E., & Duijn, van, M. A. J. (2014). Lean on me : the importance of own and partner intercultural personality dimensions for the success of an international assignment. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(5), 706-728. DOI: 10.1080/1359432X.2013.816088
·       Erp, van, K. J. P. M., Rispens, S., Gevers, J. M. P., & Demerouti, E. (2015). When bystanders become bothersome : the negative consequences of bystander conflict and the moderating role of resilience. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24(3), 402-419. DOI: 10.1080/1359432X.2014.904290

Contact Person
Prof.dr. E. Demerouti, Dr.ir. S. Rispens