Resilience Training: Guided Self-reflection as an Alternative to Coping Skills in Military Officer Cadets

Research Paper Title

Strengthening resilience in military officer cadets: A group-randomized controlled trial of coping and emotion regulatory self-reflection training.

Background

This group-randomised control trial examined the efficacy of guided coping and emotion regulatory self-reflection as a means to strengthen resilience by testing the effects of the training on anxiety and depression symptoms and perceived stressor frequency after an intensive stressor period.

Methods

The sample was 226 officer cadets training at the Royal Military College, Australia. Cadets were randomised by platoon to the self-reflection (n = 130) or coping skills training (n = 96). Surveys occurred at 3 time points: baseline, immediately following the final reflective session (4-weeks post-baseline), and longer-term follow-up (3-months post-initial follow-up).

Results

There were no significant baseline differences in demographic or outcome variables between the intervention groups. On average, cadets commenced the resilience training with mild depression and anxiety symptoms. Analyses were conducted at the individual-level after exploring group-level effects.

No between-groups differences were observed at initial follow-up. At longer-term follow-up, improvements in mental health outcomes were observed for the self-reflection group, compared with the coping skills group, on depression (Cohen’s d = 0.55; 95% CI [0.24, 0.86]), anxiety symptoms (Cohen’s d = 0.69; 95% CI [0.37, 1.00]), and perceived stressor frequency (Cohen’s d = 0.46; 95% CI [0.15, 0.77]).

Longitudinal models demonstrated a time by condition interaction for depression and anxiety, but there was only an effect of condition for perceived stressor frequency. Mediation analyses supported an indirect effect of the intervention on both anxiety and depression via perceived stressor frequency.

Conclusions

Findings provide initial support for the use of guided self-reflection as an alternative to coping skills approaches to resilience training.

Reference

Crane, M.F., Boga, D., Karin, E., Gucciardi, D.F., Rapport, F., Callen, J. & Sinclair, L. (2019) Strengthening resilience in military officer cadets: A group-randomized controlled trial of coping and emotion regulatory self-reflection training. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 87(2), pp.125-140. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000356. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

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