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Human Spaceflight Capabilities

Self-Guided Multimedia Stress Management and Resilience Training

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Stress and anxiety-related problems are some of the most common and costly behavioral health problems in society. For those working in operational environments (i.e., astronauts, flight controllers, military), stress and anxiety-related problems before, during, or after missions can seriously compromise efficiency, safety, and performance. To address behavioral health issues like stress, it is important to maximize the privacy, validity, and acceptability of the training and countermeasures used. Technology-based behavioral health programs (e.g., computer or web-based programs) are effective for treating behavioral health problems. These programs increase availability of evidence-based interventions to individuals who are not able or willing to receive such in-person treatments. Our prior research validated the autonomous multimedia resilience training program we created (i.e., Stress Management and Resilience Training for Optimal Performance; SMART-OP). SMART-OP interactively trains users to manage stress and build resilience over 6 weekly training sessions lasting approximately 45 minutes each. Results from a randomized controlled trial with a stressed but otherwise healthy sample (N=66) indicated that SMART-OP decreased perceived stress, improved perceived control over stress, and was rated as significantly more useful than an attention control group that received marketed videos and published material on stress management. SMART-OP was also rated as “excellent” in terms of user-friendliness, acceptability, and had low dropout, and high homework adherence. We propose to evaluate the effectiveness, usefulness, and usability of SMART-OP with a sample of flight controllers and instructors (including those in training flow) at Johnson Space Center (JSC) by comparing it to a Wait List Control group. Additionally, we will examine the effects of self-guided stress management and resilience training on biomarkers for stress (i.e., cortisol, a-amylase), heart rate, and cognitive and behavioral performance. Based on several meetings with the Space Flight Resource Management (SFRM) Working Group, we learned that trainees are not progressing through the training flow satisfactorily and that they identified stress as a potential contributor to poor trainee performance. Additionally, stress was identified as an area of concern to address with flight controller and instructors. Since SMART-OP significantly reduced perceived stress, increased perceived control over stressors, and was rated as highly useful, SMART-OP could provide helpful stress management training for flight controllers. Also, since SMART-OP is evidence-based, confidential, and self-directed, it may be more acceptable to flight controller trainees than other programs.

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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