Research Articles

Are Peacekeeping Missions Inevitably Stressful?

Authors:

Abstract

The degree to which peacekeeping missions impact perceived stress, cognitive performance and cortisol levels: a longitudinal study.

Military deployment is often associated with stress. Learning more about deployment stress is relevant for developing both preventive and reactive strategies for managing stress. This study addresses stress before, during and after a peacekeeping mission. Data were collected on perceived stress and the stress biomarker cortisol. A total of 41 soldiers were assessed at three points (prior to deployment, during deployment and at homecoming). Soldiers’ perceived stress, cognitive performance and biomarkers were measured. Contrary to our hypothesis that stress accumulates during deployment, leading to increased perceived stress and levels of cortisol (as measured in the morning by the cortisol awakening response, or CAR), and to decreased results on cognitive tests, the results show that the levels of perceived stress were lower during deployment than before and after deployment, as measured by the soldiers’ pre- and post-deployment scores. The soldiers also had a reduced CAR response at homecoming compared to their pre-deployment levels. The results indicate that peacekeeping missions may contain stress-mitigating factors that have previously been underestimated. Further research addressing stress-mitigating factors might allow a deeper understanding of the deployment environment and, subsequently, new methods of promoting soldiers’ well-being and maintaining high combat fitness.

Keywords:

peacekeepingstressbiomarkerscognitionmilitary deployment
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 210–219
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.107
  • Submitted on 21 Apr 2021
  • Accepted on 8 Sep 2021
  • Published on 19 Oct 2021
  • Peer Reviewed