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Medical News & Perspectives
August 21, 2002

Psychosocial Support for Far-flung Astronauts

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JAMA. 2002;288(7):822. doi:10.1001/jama.288.7.822-JMN0821-3-1

When mental problems strike astronauts as they float far above the earth, they may feel as though they are lost in space.

Researchers affiliated with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) are doing something about that: they are developing a "smart medical system" prototype for psychosocial support on long-duration space flights.

James A. Carter, PhD, the principal investigator and a clinical psychologist at Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, said confinement and isolation associated with extended periods of time (a mission to Mars would last more than a year) can lead to mental health problems that could doom an expedition.

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