Quantifying the Physiological Stress Response to Simulated Maritime Pilotage Tasks: The Influence of Task Complexity and Pilot Experience

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The aim of this study was to quantify the stress associated with performing maritime pilotage tasks in a high-fidelity simulator.


Eight trainee and 13 maritime pilots completed two simulated pilotage tasks of varying complexity. Salivary cortisol samples were collected pre- and post-simulation for both trials. Heart rate was measured continuously throughout the study.


Significant changes in salivary cortisol (P = 0.000, η2 = 0.139), average (P = 0.006, η2 = 0.087), and peak heart rate (P = 0.013, η2 = 0.077) from pre- to postsimulation were found. Varying task complexity did partially influence stress response; average (P = 0.016, η2 = 0.026) and peak heart rate (P = 0.034, η2 = 0.020) were higher in the experimental condition. Trainees also recorded higher average (P = 0.000, η2 = 0.054) and peak heart rates (P = 0.027, η2 = 0.022).


Performing simulated pilotage tasks evoked a measurable stress response in both trainee and expert maritime pilots.

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