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Int J Aviat Psychol. 2015 Oct 2;25(3-4):191-208. Epub 2016 May 10.

Impact of Mindfulness Training on Physiological Measures of Stress and Objective Measures of Attention Control in a Military Helicopter Unit.

Author information

1
Norwegian Armed Forces Medical Services, Institute of Aviation Medicine , Oslo , Norway.
2
Graduate School of Health Care Sciences, Jikei Institute , Osaka , Japan.
3
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences , Oslo , Norway.
4
National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Denmark, and Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen , Copenhagen , Denmark.
5
Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen , Bergen , Norway.

Abstract

Objective: This study sought to determine if mindfulness training (MT) has a measurable impact on stress and attentional control as measured by objective physiological and psychological means. Background: Periods of persistent, intensive work demands are known to compromise recovery and attentional capacity. The effects of 4-month MT on salivary cortisol and performance on 2 computer-based cognitive tasks were tested on a military helicopter unit exposed to a prolonged period of high workload. Methods: MT participants were compared to a wait list control group on levels of saliva cortisol and performance on a go-no go test and a test of stimulus-driven attentional capture. Participants also reported mental demands on the go-no go test, time of wakeup, sleep duration, quality of sleep, outcome expectancies, physical activity level, self-perceived mindfulness, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Results: The results from a mixed between-within analysis revealed that the MT participants compared to the control group had a larger pre to post increase in high- and low-cortisol slopes, and decrease in perceived mental demand imposed by the go-no go test. Conclusion: MT alleviates some of the physiological stress response and the subjective mental demands of challenging tasks in a military helicopter unit during a period of high workload.

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