Psychological Skills to Improve Emergency Care Providers' Performance Under Stress

Ann Emerg Med. 2017 Dec;70(6):884-890. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2017.03.018. Epub 2017 Apr 29.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Stress / prevention & control*
  • Resuscitation / psychology