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Diurnal and Reactivity Measures of Cortisol in Response to Intensive Resilience and Tactical Training Among Special Forces Police

Andersen, Judith P. PhD; Dorai, Mala MPH; Papazoglou, Konstantinos MA; Arnetz, Bengt B. MD, PhD, MPH, MScEpi

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 7 - p e242–e248
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000756
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Special Forces Police are called to the most dangerous situations that require skills and equipment beyond the training available to a patrol officer. We recruited a platoon of special forces (n = 18) and examined their basal and reactivity levels of cortisol in relation to occupational duties. Moreover, we measured the impact of a multiday program of intensive resilience and tactical training in improving cortisol responses to stressful situations. Participants were significantly more likely to exhibit basal cortisol levels higher than the civilian norms across all of the 5 days of intensive training. However, anticipatory cortisol, measured directly before exposure to critical incident scenarios, was significantly lower in Day 5 than in Day 1 of the training period. This study demonstrates that measuring cortisol is an objective method of examining training effects and possible long-term occupational health outcomes.

Affiliated Faculty of Medicine (Dr Andersen), Department of Psychology (Ms Dorai and Mr Papazoglou), University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine (Prof Arnetz), Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing.

Address correspondence to: Judith P. Andersen, PhD, University of Toronto Mississauga, Deer Field Hall, 4032, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada (judith.andersen@utoronto.ca).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this paper.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine