Potential role for psychological skills training in emergency medicine: Part 1 - Introduction and background

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Psychological skills training (PST) is the systematic acquisition and practice of different psychological techniques to improve cognitive and technical performance. This training consists of three phases: education, skills acquisition and practice. Some of the psychological skills developed in this training include relaxation techniques, focusing and concentration skills, positive ‘self-suggestion’ and visualisation exercises. Since the middle of the 20th century, PST has been successfully applied by athletes, performing artists, business executives, military personnel and other professionals in high-risk occupations. Research in these areas has demonstrated the breadth and depth of the training's effectiveness. Despite the benefits realised in other professions, medicine has only recently begun to explore certain elements of PST. The present paper reviews the history and evidence behind the concept of PST. In addition, it presents some aspects of PST that have already been incorporated into medical training as well as implications for developing more comprehensive programmes to improve delivery of emergency medical care.

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