Predeployment stress inoculation training for primary prevention of combat-related stress disorders
Predeployment stress inoculation training (PRESIT) is designed to help personnel cope with combat-related stressors and trauma exposure. PRESIT comprises education on combat and operational stress control, attentional retraining and relaxation training, and practice and assessment via a multimedia stressor environment (MSE). Heart rate variability (HRV) and a reaction time task assessed learned skills and inoculation to MSE arousal. Participants with deployment experience and who were in the experimental group demonstrated improvement, measured as greater relaxation demonstrated during the MSE of a follow-up session relative to that of a baseline session. There was also a training effect for this group, such that those participants who showed greater relaxation from a baseline HRV state during the training (i.e., on relaxation breathing and focusing) showed more improvement between sessions. In contrast, there were no significant predictive variables for the participants in training who had never deployed. Participants with more Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms at baseline showed more capability for improvement, as was true for participants who were more anxious about their next deployment.