Strengthening Health and Improving Emotional Defenses (SHIELD)

Elkin-Frankston, S., Niehaus, J., and Wollocko, A.

Presented at the Second Annual Global Brain Health and Performance Summit, Columbus, Ohio (April 2017)

The psychological stress experienced by Marines has a profound impact on health and performance that reaches beyond the individual; it affects job performance, interactions with family and peers. The DoD has devoted substantial resources to developing stress prevention and resilience programs to combat the effects of stress; however, there is limited evidence to justify the cost and scope of current programs. To maximize effectiveness, the Marine Corps needs low-cost, evidence-based training options that integrate effectively with existing wellness programs. Our program, Strengthening Health and Improving Emotional Defenses (SHIELD), is a comprehensive and portable psychological resiliency program based on the latest evidence-based strategies from psychological skills training, stress management strategies, and mindfulness-based stress reduction to train Marines to develop psychological fitness, and promote healthy responses to adverse and stressful events. A mobile application using biometric data collected from sensors embedded in smartphones, combined with content delivery and user feedback and evaluation, will build a composite of individual stress-levels to guide personalized training objectives. SHIELD is designed to be a training and research tool by including evidence-based stress metrics that enable comparisons across time, groups, and competing interventions, as well as the ability to adapt and scale modules to satisfy a range of requirements and scenarios. Our current objective is to design, develop, and evaluate a full-scope SHIELD program through human use testing. We expect SHIELD will provide a low-cost, adaptive, assessment, and treatment option for enhancing resilience and performance.


This material is based upon work supported by the Office of Naval Research under Contract No. N00014-15-P-1134. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.

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