2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Characterization of Psychological Risk, Overlap with Physical Health, and Associated Performance in Isolated, Confined, Extreme (ICE) Environments


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Summary

Event Number:
X-593-M/S
NSF/OPP Award 13-14BMEDPROP-0007

Program Manager:
(Other)

ASC POC/Implementer:
Curt Labombard / James McKeith / Neal Scheibe


Principal Investigator

Dr. Candice A. Alfano
caalfano@uh.edu

University of Houston
Houston, Texas


Location

Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: McMurdo, South Pole


Description

McMurdo Station This study will extend previous research documenting psychological symptoms experienced during space flight and in other isolated and confined environments (ICE) which provides evidence of a wide range of psychological and behavioral reactions. The project will explore relationships among psychological health, sleep loss/dysregulation, biomarkers of stress, and performance-based outcomes. A comprehensive battery of cognitive and performance measures will be administered repeatedly as part of a longitudinal study, with the goal of characterizing the likelihood and performance-based consequence of behavioral health symptoms.

South Pole This study will extend previous research documenting psychological symptoms experienced during space flight and in other isolated and confined environments (ICE) which provides evidence of a wide range of psychological and behavioral reactions. The project will explore relationships among psychological health, sleep loss/dysregulation, biomarkers of stress, and performance-based outcomes. A comprehensive battery of cognitive and performance measures will be administered repeatedly as part of a longitudinal study, with the goal of characterizing the likelihood and performance-based consequence of behavioral health symptoms.


Field Season Overview

McMurdo Station This project will occur in the 2016-17, primarily during the winter, at McMurdo and South Pole stations. No project participants are deploying to either McMurdo or South Pole. All on ice activities will be coordinated by the medical departments at each station by a representative assigned by the ASC medical director. The project will recruit subjects in the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) to take part in the project study, with a goal of N=110 total subjects (approximately 20 subjects for the winter at South Pole and 90 subjects for the winter at McMurdo).

Information and consent documentation will be presented to the study subjects either prior to the start of the season or just after arrival on station. The subjects who agree to participate will complete a baseline assessment including a battery of questionnaires, performance-based tests, actigraphy (sleep monitoring), and saliva sampling. Subjects will be trained to self-administer these measures/tests on a monthly basis throughout the project. The subjects will be asked to collect their own saliva samples, perform computer tests/questionnaires, and wear a wrist actigraph (sleep monitor), with assistance from research support staff only as needed.

The saliva samples will be stored in temperatures at or below -50 C. At South Pole, secure space will be provided in the ice tunnels, outside in ambient air. At McMurdo, a lockable freezer will be provided for sample storage. All samples from both stations will need to be returned to the home institution at the completion of the study via shipping on dry ice with samples kept under -20 C.

All questionnaires and lists will be collected on computers, either using the subject’s own personal computer or a USAP computer available for use on this study. Time during the subject’s normal work day will be used for participation in the study.

South Pole This project will occur in the 2016-17, primarily during the winter, at McMurdo and South Pole stations. No project participants are deploying to either McMurdo or South Pole. All on ice activities will be coordinated by the medical departments at each station by a representative assigned by the ASC medical director. The project will recruit subjects in the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) to take part in the project study, with a goal of N=110 total subjects (approximately 20 subjects for the winter at South Pole and 90 subjects for the winter at McMurdo).

Information and consent documentation will be presented to the study subjects either prior to the start of the season or just after arrival on station. The subjects who agree to participate will complete a baseline assessment including a battery of questionnaires, performance-based tests, actigraphy (sleep monitoring), and saliva sampling. Subjects will be trained to self-administer these measures/tests on a monthly basis throughout the project. The subjects will be asked to collect their own saliva samples, perform computer tests/questionnaires, and wear a wrist actigraph (sleep monitor), with assistance from research support staff only as needed.

The saliva samples will be stored in temperatures at or below -50 C. At South Pole, secure space will be provided in the ice tunnels, outside in ambient air. At McMurdo, a lockable freezer will be provided for sample storage. All samples from both stations will need to be returned to the home institution at the completion of the study via shipping on dry ice with samples kept under -20 C.

All questionnaires and lists will be collected on computers, either using the subject’s own personal computer or a USAP computerMicrosoft Surface pro 4 computers provided by the research group available for use on this study. Time during the subject’s normal work day will be used for participation in the study.