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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

European isolation and confinement study. Group functioning and communication.

Six EMSInauts were isolated in the hyperbaric chambers at NUTEC for a period of 28 days at 5-msw overpressure. Based on previous studies of analogous conditions, the hypothesis was advanced that group and communication problems could possibly occur during the isolation period, and that this could be partly related to personality aspects. The scientific methods for the present study consisted of the following: (1) the team members were systematically observed through wide-angle cameras, and the activities in the working chamber were taped during the entire isolation period; (2) daily questionnaires regarding group functioning and communication were administered; and (3) post-isolation assessment interviews were given. Results were obtained by analysis of: (1) video tapes from the daily meetings; (2) questionnaires on group behavior and communication; (3) post-isolation interviews; and (4) personality inventories ( DMT, Helmreich Test, MMPI). The following observations were made: 1. All team members were able to complete the 4-week isolation period while remaining functioning. 2. The commander became ever more central during the isolation period. Communications went more directly through him and less between the EMSInauts. At the same time he became evaluated less positively by the other EMSInauts. 3. There was a steady increase in emotional responses among all EMSInauts during the isolation period. In particular, there was an increase in negative emotional content. 4. Week 3 was evaluated by the EMSInauts as being the most positive period. They scored themselves then as being very task oriented. 5. The EMSInauts gave a low score to problems with the mission control room personnel, indicating few problems. There were indications of temporary increases during week 2 and at the end of the isolation period. In summary, it can be stated that all team members completed the 4-week isolation in good condition. The commander developed increasing control during the isolation period, which resulted in increasingly negative responses towards him from the other team members. During the isolation period there was an increase in emotional content. In particular, during the last week there was an increase of frustrations. There were few communication problems with mission control, though the scores were elevated in week 2 and on the final two days.[1]


  1. European isolation and confinement study. Group functioning and communication. Bergan, T., Sandal, G., Warncke, M., Ursin, H., Vaernes, R.J. Adv. Space Biol. Med. (1993) [Pubmed]
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