Original Article

Increasing Comfort with Sensory Processing Difficulties in the Prehospital Setting: Pre-Post Study of Education and Sensory Tools in EMS Providers

Authors: Nipam Shah, MBBS, MPH, Katherine Hert, BS, Ann E. Klasner, MD, MPH


Objectives: Interfacing with patients with sensory processing difficulties is challenging to healthcare providers and even more problematic for emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in the acute care setting. Sensory training may be an effective nonpharmacologic method to deal with these patient populations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether an educational session and placement sensory tools would improve the comfort of EMS providers in the prehospital setting.

Methods: EMS providers from two agencies in the Alabama Gulf EMS System were selected for this study. Preeducation questionnaires were administered to EMS providers to assess their frequency and comfort level in taking care of patients with sensory processing difficulties. The educational session included a video presentation of various topics related to sensory processing difficulties and education on sensory tools. Posteducation questionnaires were administered to EMS providers 3 months posteducational session to assess the use of sensory tools and their comfort in patient care. Comfort level was assessed on a Likert scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not comfortable at all and 10 being extremely comfortable. We performed descriptive statistics and the nonparametric Wilcoxon signed rank test to compare medians.

Results: A total of 177 of 225 (78.6%) EMS providers completed the preeducation questionnaire. In the preeducation period, 159 (89.8%) EMS providers transported patients with sensory processing difficulties. The preeducation median comfort level was 7.5 (range 1–10). At postsurvey, 135 of 177 (76.3%) EMS providers received educational training; 37 (27.4%) used the sensory tools within the previous 3 months. The posteducation median comfort level was 8 (range 3–10). Pre- and post median comfort levels were significantly different using the Wilcoxon signed rank test (P = 0.006).

Conclusions: Sensory training can be an effective method for EMS providers to increase comfort levels in taking care of patients with sensory difficulties. Further research with larger sample sizes is needed to confirm/refute these findings.
Posted in: Emergency & Disaster Medicine14

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