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The Ottawa Paramedic Physical Ability Test: test-retest reliability and analysis of sex-based performance differences

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The Ottawa Paramedic Physical Ability Test (OPPAT) is a physical employment standard (PES) that candidates must pass as a pre-hire requirement and that incumbents may have to pass prior to returning to work after absence, to demonstrate their physical capabilities as required to safely meet the demands of paramedic work. Consistent with best practice guidelines for PES development, it is important to establish reliability and to investigate sex-based performance differences. Active duty paramedics completed the OPPAT twice while candidates completed the OPPAT six times. Across all participants, a median improvement of 76.0 s was observed in OPPAT performance (922.0–846.0 s) between trial 1 and trial 2. Among candidates, OPPAT performance stabilised by the fourth trial confirming reliability. Sex-based analyses revealed median differences in OPPAT performance time of 39.0 and 63.0 s between males and females during the first and second trials respectively.

Practitioner summary: Active duty paramedics and candidates performed the Ottawa Paramedic Physical Ability Test (OPPAT) faster following familiarisation. Among candidates, performance time stabilised by the fourth trial. Performance time was slower among females, but this had less impact on females’ ability to meet the OPPAT standard.
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Keywords: Performance standard; familiarisation; reliability; sex

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada; 2: School of Kinesiology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada; 3: Departments of Kinesiology and Physical Education/Health Sciences, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada

Publication date: August 3, 2019

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