Psychological Skills to Improve Emergency Care Providers’ Performance Under Stress

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Abstract

Stress experienced by emergency medical providers during the resuscitation of critically ill or injured patients can cause cognitive and technical performance to deteriorate. Psychological skills training offers a reasonable and easily implemented solution to this problem. In this article, a specific set of 4 performance-enhancing psychological skills is introduced: breathe, talk, see, and focus. These skills comprise breathing techniques, positive self-talk, visualization or mental practice, and implementing a focus “trigger word.” The evidence supporting these concepts in various domains is reviewed and specific methods for adapting them to the environment of resuscitation and emergency medicine are provided.

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