Gap BMed2: We need to identify and validate measures to monitor behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions to determine acceptable thresholds for these measures.
Last Published:  03/29/18 08:54:54 AM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Factors and Behavioral Performance (HFBP)
Status: Open
Present State

Given the extended duration and/or distance of future spaceflight missions, it is anticipated that spaceflight missions will become increasingly autonomous, with a largely different model of psychological care provided to crew members in these exploration class missions. There is a need for objective, reliable, sensitive methods or tools for monitoring and measuring changes in individual behavioral health and performance are needed so that flight surgeons can provide psychological support. Objective assessments of the crew member’s psychological well-being in conjunction with the crew member’s subjective reports can provide the context needed to more accurately assess the astronaut’s behavioral health and performance. In addition, evidence indicates that gathering objective information would be highly valuable in astronaut selection and training and can provide mission planners and operators with critical information on individual adaptation and functioning so that if decrements are detected these can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and a more personalized countermeasure approach can be provided. BMed Gap 2 therefore seeks to identify and validate measures to monitor behavioral health and performance in future spaceflight.

In conjunction with this effort, it is necessary to set exploration-class mission acceptable levels (thresholds) for the key behavioral health and performance indicators. The astronaut corps is comprised of highly selected, motivated and skilled individuals who out-perform other healthy adults while working operationally. Therefore thresholds will need to be normed to the astronaut population. A threshold represents a level above or below which would indicate a change and thus can trigger mitigation action. The change could be a percentage change in a set of behaviors from baseline levels or at specific times during the mission (e.g., third quarter). This will enable experts (e.g., flight surgeons, BHP Operations) and astronauts themselves, to more accurately monitor and manage crewmember behavioral health status. Setting crewmember thresholds is l important to the understanding and mitigating of off-nominal individual behaviors during exploration missions of varying duration (e.g., <6; 6-12; >12 months). Currently, such metrics do not exist for ISS missions, and neither do astronaut norms for many of the parameters of import. The goal is to develop astronaut norms where needed and to standardize metrics to provide the ability to objectively detect, assess, and manage off nominal events, and predict future off nominal events that may compromise a mission and increase the risk of behavioral health and performance decrements. Individualized, real-time tools that provide rapid feedback and assessment will be needed for exploration class missions.


From the key threats and promoters of behavioral health identified and baselined for Earth-levels, current measures and readiness levels of research deliverables (tools and technologies) will be reviewed. We will then develop and validate the measures and tools that are sensitive, reliable, and feasible to monitor behavioral health and performance. We will utilize high fidelity analogs to validate the set of effective measures for monitoring. These measures will be vetted with SMEs and evidence will be updated accordingly. During the development and validation of those tools, a critical step is to establish a baseline for thresholds regarding individual behavioral health and performance for exploration class missions in the context of three mission durations (<6; 6-12; >12 months). The baseline will allow for future monitoring of long duration crews. Astronaut norms will need to be developed for this set of behaviors where possible, or extrapolated from healthy, astronaut-like population. The tools for detecting and assessing behavioral health status will need to be tested in high fidelity analogs for sensitivity, reliability as well as feasibility and acceptability for astronauts. Finally an integrated testing of countermeasures will test the full suite of integrated countermeasures.
Target for Closure

Monitoring measures validated for feasibility and acceptability in high fidelity ground analogs of different durations (<6 months; 6-12 months; >12 months).

  1. Quantified and validated set of mission acceptable thresholds of individual behavioral health and performance for exploration class missions.
Risk Risk of Adverse Cognitive or Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
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