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Wilderness Environ Med. 2012 Sep;23(3):281-7. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.04.005. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

An examination of wilderness first aid knowledge, self-efficacy, and skill retention.

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Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0920, USA.



The purpose of this study was to examine the retention of wilderness first aid (WFA) knowledge, self-efficacy beliefs, and skills over time in a sample of WFA course participants.


Seventy-two open enrollment (volunteer) WFA course participants were assessed at 4 months, 8 months, or 12 months after training. Changes in WFA knowledge and self-efficacy were assessed by written instruments after the course and at the follow-up interval (4, 8, or 12 months). The WFA skills were assessed by a scored medical scenario at the follow-up interval.


As the time interval increased, WFA knowledge, self-efficacy, and skill proficiency decreased. The WFA knowledge and self-efficacy beliefs were not highly correlated with skill performance.


Without additional training, regular use of the course content, or efforts to refresh thinking on key topics, the ability of WFA students to effectively apply their learning will likely decrease as time from training increases. With respect to these WFA courses, student scores on written tests did not accurately reflect competence in performing practical skills related to a medical scenario. In addition, student self-confidence in the ability to perform such skills did not strongly correlate with actual skills and ability.

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