An analogue trial of inoculation/resilience training for emergency services personnel: proof of concept

Tracey Varker, Grant J Devilly
Journal of Anxiety Disorders 2012, 26 (6): 696-701

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: This analogue study served as a proof of concept trial for inoculation/resilience training with emergency services personnel.

METHODS: Eighty people from the general community participated in a randomized controlled trial of inoculation training to increase resilience in the mitigation of stress and trauma-type symptomatology following a stressful video of paramedics attending the scene of a car accident. Participants were randomly allocated to one of two conditions: (a) resilience training, where the participants received strategies aimed at reducing the negative effects of the event; or (b) a control 'pragmatic training' condition, where participants received practical training about what to do in the event of a car accident. A week later the full video was shown. All participants were assessed one month later.

RESULTS: Unlike with past studies which tested psychological debriefing, analyses revealed that inoculation/resilience training did not appear to have deleterious effects on psychological distress measures or memory performance. Participants who received the resilience training displayed improvements in negative affect (notable trends in depression and stress levels) suggesting a more general positive result from the intervention than normal 'pragmatic training'.

LIMITATIONS: This was an analogue trial and a full field trial is warranted.

CONCLUSIONS: With organisations wishing to engage in resilience training, this analogue study suggests that inoculation training at least does no harm and may be beneficial. It is, therefore, a viable option for emergency services personnel during pre-deployment training.

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