Monitoring daily events, coping strategies, and emotion during a desert expedition in the Middle East

Nathan Smith, Emma Barrett, Gro M Sandal

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Personnel operating in extreme environmental conditions are exposed to a variety of stressors. Whether a person adjusts to the conditions and is able to cope has implications for their psychological health. In previous extreme-environment work, temporal changes in stress, coping, and emotion have been reported. Building on previous studies, we used a diary methodology to explore temporal changes in and associations between daily events, coping strategies, and affect during a unique hyperarid desert expedition. Four participants undertaking a crossing of the Empty Quarter desert were recruited to the study. Participants completed pre-expedition, postexpedition, and 4-month follow-up questionnaires. A daily self-report diary was used to collect situational data. Time-based changes were analysed before testing predictive models linking events and coping strategies with affective responses. Findings suggest that participants had an overall positive experience. There were changes in both the events experienced and coping strategies used during the expedition. Variation in events and coping strategies significantly predicted fluctuations in positive and negative affect. Results offer valuable mechanistic information that could inform monitoring systems aimed at tracking psychological variables during operations in extreme environments. Results are discussed in relation to the novel context, diary methodology, and implications for those operating in extremes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStress and Health
Early online date9 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Coping
  • Diary study
  • Desert expedition
  • Emotion

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute


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