Emotion Regulation Strategies in Paramedic Crew Leaders During a Simulated Stressful Task: A Qualitative Inquiry

Keywords: coping with stress and fatigue, emergency medical service, non-technical skills, naturalistic decision making, simulated task


In spite of a large body of research in the field of emotion regulation, it has not yet been studied vigorously in naturalistic settings, especially not in the context of task performance. Therefore, it remains uncertain whether predominant theoretical conceptualisations of emotion regulation (e.g. Gross, 1998) can be applied to this sort of situation. In this qualitative study, we aimed to identify emotion regulation strategies of paramedic crew leaders (n = 30) in a simulated task with a sudden onset of a stressful incident. For this purpose, we analysed their emotional behaviour (i.e. facial expression, voice volume, body posture and movements etc.) on video recorded performance, and their affective states and emotion regulation strategies based on interviews realized right after the task. Verbal reports were analysed via phenomenologically-laden template analysis. We classified emergent strategies into two basic categories: task-related (e.g. attention narrowing, mobilization to action, monitoring) and self-supportive (e.g. emotional distancing, behavioural withdrawal, detachment and selective attention). Results of our analysis suggest that regulatory strategies are often implemented on an implicit level of processing and their function might be a better criteria for their distinction than a type of mental process.