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How stressful is the Newborn Life Support airway test? An observational study


Objectives To determine whether there is a significant stress response to the Newborn Life Support airway test (NLSAT) among healthcare professionals in the UK.

Design Quantitative study measuring both stress and anxiety of candidates on Newborn Life Support (NLS) courses measuring salivary cortisol levels along with validated anxiety questionnaires (State Trait Anxiety Inventory).

Setting UK NLS course centres.

Participants 80 healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors and midwives) on NLS courses.

Interventions Stress levels measured (cortisol swabs and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)) at baseline, immediately before and 20 min after starting the NLSAT.

Results Cortisol measurements failed to detect any significant rise in stress levels as a result of the NLSAT. Significant anxiety was induced by the NLSAT based on STAI scores. STAI scores rose significantly in all professionals from baseline to post-NLSAT, with the greatest change detected for midwives (+11.82 (SD 7.64, p<0.001)) compared with nurses (+8.86 (SD 12.1, p<0.001)) and doctors (+7.96 (SD 2.9.69, p<0.001)). Experience had no impact on stress levels.

Conclusions Anxiety levels induced by the NLSAT are significant and should be considered when instructing and developing the NLS course.

  • Resuscitation
  • Newborn
  • Assessment
  • Stress
  • Multi-professional

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