A study of cognitive coping mechanisms while wintering in winterers in the French Australs and Antarctic Territories

The objective of this study is to investigate the coping mechanisms of cognitive functions in winterers during wintering in the three Austral districts: Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam of the French Austral and Antarctic Territories.

During wintering period from March to November, winterers are subject to extreme environment conditions which may entail coping difficulties that have been investigated from a psychological perspective, i.e. essentially affective: anxiety, mood disorders and/or behavior distrubances.

Conversely, possible difficulties in cognitive coping (i.e. essentially intellectual capabilities of information management, communication, planification and implementation) have not been investigated by the using up to date evaluation tools.

This study will be conducted in a population of Civil Service Servants (VSC) and Wildlife Sanctuary Agents. Baseline parameters (test, baseline) will be measured during landing in OP4 year N. Retest (observed values during wintering) will be conducted during OP2 year N+1. A total sample of 30 subjects is expected.

Each subject will be his own reference for retest values. Study results will be communicated to the volunteers who will ask for them.

This study, of which results can be extrapolated to many isolation situations in professional settings, shall allow to implement early detection tools of warning and tools to help winterers at high risk of developing a “Wintering mental syndrome”. It should also permit to update the selection criteria of winterers in order to minimize this risk.