ABSTRACT: Wearing a protective mask is compulsory for those in professions such as fire-fighters, rescue personnel and soldiers. The phobia to wear a protective mask is considered a specific claustrophobia and may become of major concern during military service. To date, no data are available with respect to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical system activity (HPA SA) for both the so-called protective mask phobia (PMP) and its treatment. The aim of the present study was three-fold: 1) to assess HPA SA in soldiers suffering from PMP before and after intensive cognitive-behavioral treatment, 2) to compare these data with controls, and 3) to relate these data to subjective sleep.
46 Swiss Army recruits suffering from PMP were enrolled in a two-day intensive treatment course. During initial and final assessments, saliva was sampled to analyse HPA SA via salivary cortisol; saliva samples were also gathered in the morning. For comparison, saliva samples were gathered of 39 Emergency Rescue Service (ERS) recruits. All participants also completed a questionnaire related to sleep and to anxiety.
Compared to controls from the ERS, among army recruits suffering from PMP, cortisol secretion was significantly higher during initial and final assessments, and in the morning. Cortisol secretion decreased from initial and final assessment. Subjectively assessed sleep was more impaired in recruits suffering from PMP compared to controls. After cognitive-behavioral treatment, all recruits suffering from PMP were able to wear the protective mask.
Specific phobia about wearing a protective mask is treatable via a two-day intensive course. Treatment success is reflected in modified HPA SA. Methodology and results may be transferred to treat patients suffering from sleep apnea syndrome and presenting high anxiety about wearing continuous positive airway pressure devices.
Journal of psychiatric research 05/2011; 45(10):1337-45. · 3.72 Impact Factor