Optimizing medical performance utilizing electrodermal activity stress levels
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This thesis explores using Electrodermal Activity (EDA) as an indicator of potential performance levels. Research indicates changes in EDA levels link with levels of arousal during a stimulating experience. Arousal and stress play significant roles in performance and learning, as modeled in Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning and the Yerkes-Dodson Law. This research uses EDA to assess the level of arousal by training military medical personnel in treating various critical life-saving medical procedures across different training modalities. Participants were randomly assigned to either live tissue training (LT), simulation based training (SIM), or a high-resolution video (VID). To assess performance, initial cognitive and psychomotor skills tests were performed. Establishing a baseline EDA reading, all participants were shown a didactic slideshow presentation on proper treatment of the critical life-saving procedure at hand. After completion, the three training platforms proceeded, simultaneously capturing the change in EDA from the baseline. Following the training, repeated cognitive and psychomotor skills tests were executed. Analysis indicates no correlation exists between the changes in EDA levels across the different training groups to the skills test performance. Results, however, show a statistical difference (p < 0.001) in EDA levels for each of the three groups. An optimal arousal level may be specific to each individual to achieve an environment in which they experience peak engagement and performance. Further research needs to be conducted to capture the long-term performance effects to fully understand the relationship between stress and performance gains. The future of this research hopes to advance the understanding of arousal-based learning and how different training methods can be endorsed or even eliminated to optimize training.
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