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Conscious Presence and Self Control as a measure of situational awareness in soldiers – A validation study

Arndt Büssing1*, Harald Walach2, Niko Kohls3, Fred Zimmermann3 and Marion Trousselard4

Author Affiliations

1 Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Center for Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Herdecke, Germany

2 Institute for Transcultural Health Studies and European Office of the Samueli Institute, Europa University Viadrina, Berlin, Germany

3 Generation Research Program, Human Science Center, University of Munich, Bad Tölz, Germany; and Brain, Mind & Healing Program, Samueli Institute, Alexandria, USA

4 Neurophysiology of Emotions, Département des Facteurs Humains, Centre de recherches du service de santé des Armées, La Tronche Cédex, France

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International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2013, 7:1  doi:10.1186/1752-4458-7-1

Published: 7 January 2013

Abstract

Background

The concept of `mindfulness´ was operationalized primarily for patients with chronic stressors, while it is rarely used in reference to soldiers. We intended to validate a modified instrument on the basis of the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) to measure soldiers’ situational awareness (“mindfulness”) in stressful situations/missions. The instrument we will explore in this paper is termed the Conscious Presence and Self Control (CPSC) scale.

Methods

The CPSC and further instruments, i.e., Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), stressful military experiences (PCL-M), life satisfaction (BMLSS), Positive Life Construction (ePLC), and self-perceived health affections (VAS), were administered to 281 German soldiers. The soldiers were mainly exposed to explosive ordnance, military police, medical service, and patients with posttraumatic stress disorders.

Results

The 10-item CPSC scale exhibited a one-factorial structure and showed a good internal consistence (Cronbach´s alpha = .86); there were neither ceiling nor bottom effects. The CPSC scores correlated moderately with Positive Life Construction and life satisfaction, and negatively with perceived stress and health affections. Regression analyses indicated that posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (negative), and the development of effective strategies to deal with disturbing pictures and experiences (positive) were the best predictor of soldiers´ CPSC scores. Soldiers with health affections exhibiting impact upon their daily life had significantly lower CPSC scores than those without impairment (F=8.1; p < .0001).

Conclusions

As core conceptualizations of `mindfulness´ are not necessarily discussed in a military context, the FMI was adopted for military personnel populations, while its two factorial structure with the sub-constructs `acceptance´ and `presence´ was retained. The resulting 10-item CPSC scale had good internal consistence, sound associations with measures of health affections and life satisfaction, and thus can be used as a short and rapid measure in pre-post mission and interventional studies.

Keywords:
Mindfulness; Conscious presence; Soldiers; Trauma; Validation; Questionnaire