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Evaluating the Impact of a High Intensity Cognitive Agility Optimization Intervention in Special Operations Forces: A Randomized Comparative Effectiveness Trial

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Technical Report,01 Apr 2019,31 Mar 2020

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Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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Complex and unpredictable operational demands require U.S. Special Operations Forces members to be cognitively agile, to have the ability to deliberately adapt cognitive processing strategies in accordance with the dynamic shifts in situational and environmental demands. The broad objective of this study is to conduct a cluster randomized controlled trial C-RCT to compare the efficacy of the Special Operations Cognitive Agility Training SOCAT program compared with routine DoD training as usual TAU on cognitive flexibility, cognitive agility, social problem-solving, and overall functioning primary outcomes as well as measures of focus, openness, interpersonal efficacy, psychological well-being, cognitive distortionsincluding suicide-related cognitions, grit, and resilience secondary outcomes. Relative to participants in the TAU condition, participants allocated to the SOCAT condition are expected to report greater improvements on primary and secondary outcome measures at 3- and 6-month follow-ups. Using block, stratified random assignment, groups of SOF members will be allocated to either 1 SOCAT TAU or 2 TAU. A highly trained sports or cognitive-behavior-oriented psychologist with SOF-relevant experience will deliver the 4-hour SOCAT program. Participants in the TAU condition will receive routine DoD training. Primary and secondary outcomes will be assessed online at baseline, 3, and 6 months. A subset of participants in the SOCAT TAU condition will complete 30-minute telephone interviews to explore factors contributing to increases, stagnation, and reductions in cognitive agility scores. SOCAT emphasizes optimal and stable cognitive performance across different contexts as well as across various stages of the military lifecycle to serve as a buffer against biopsychosocial vulnerabilities, environmental stressors, military operational demands, and mental health problems, including suicide.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Medical Research

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