The Chemical and Biological Warfare Environment: Psychological Responses and Social Supports in a High-Stress Environment

Authors

  • Carol S. Fullerton,

    Corresponding author
    1. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Carol S. Fullerton, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, Maryland 208 14-4799.
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  • Robert J. Ursano,

    1. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Tzu-Cheg Kao,

    1. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Vivek R. Bhartiya

    1. Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland
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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Carol S. Fullerton, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, Maryland 208 14-4799.

Abstract

In order to better understand psychological responses to high-stress environments and the contributions of social supports to mediating the effects of this stress, we conducted a preliminary investigation of a health care delivery team in a simulated chemical and biological warfare (CBW) environment. Our data suggest that state anxiety prior to the exercise, perceived social support from family and friends, and active training stand out as predictors of psychological outcome, even after trait and pre-exercise psychological variables are considered. Interventions directed at state anxiety and active training may offer mechanisms to decrease the psychological distress of the high-stress environment. Future research should examine variables which are amenable to intervention to determine if they are causally related to health outcome in high-stress environments.

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