Learning about stress from building, drilling and flying: a scoping review on team performance and stress in non-medical fields.

Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2021 Mar 25;29(1):52.

Dijkstra FS, Renden PG, Meeter M, Schoonmade LJ, Krage R, van Schuppen H, de
la Croix A.


Background: Teamwork is essential in healthcare, but team performance tends to deteriorate in stressful situations. Further development of training and education for healthcare teams requires a more complete understanding of team performance in stressful situations. We wanted to learn from others, by looking beyond the field of medicine, aiming to learn about a) sources of stress, b) effects of stress on team performance and c) concepts on dealing with stress.

Methods: A scoping literature review was undertaken. The three largest interdisciplinary databases outside of healthcare, Scopus, Web of Science and PsycINFO, were searched for articles published in English between 2008 and 2020. Eligible articles focused on team performance in stressful situations with outcome measures at a team level. Studies were selected, and data were extracted and analysed by at least two researchers.

Results: In total, 15 articles were included in the review (4 non-comparative, 6 multi- or mixed methods, 5 experimental studies). Three sources of stress were identified: performance pressure, role pressure and time pressure. Potential effects of stress on the team were: a narrow focus on task execution, unclear responsibilities within the team and diminished understanding of the situation. Communication, shared knowledge and situational awareness were identified as potentially helpful team processes. Cross training was suggested as a promising intervention to develop a shared mental model within a team.

Conclusion: Stress can have a significant impact on team performance. Developing strategies to prevent and manage stress and its impact has the potential to significantly increase performance of teams in stressful situations. Further research into the development and use of team cognition in stress in healthcare teams is needed, in order to be able to integrate this ‘team brain’ in training and education with the specific goal of preparing professionals for team performance in stressful situations.

Keywords: Crew resource management; Critical care; Emergency care; Human factors; Performance psychology; Stress; Team performance; Teams.

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