Preparatory Information Strategy Copy

Welcome to our discussion on the preparatory information strategy. For the remainder of the course, I’ll be introducing you to strategies developed following decades of psychological research and adapted to the unique aspects of healthcare. I’ll start by helping you predict stressors before showtime, also known as preparatory information strategy.

Carl von Clausewitz image
Carl von Clausewitz

Military research on soldiers’ stress response and preparation found that providing specific information upfront—regarding how it feels to be under intense stress—improved ability to perform once the pressure started. This was familiar confirmation to military officials—Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz wrote in the early 1800s about his observations on the battlefield:

It is immensely important that no soldier, whatever his rank, should wait for war to expose him to those aspects of active service that amaze and confuse him when he first comes across them. If he has met them even once before, they will begin to be familiar to him.


Preparing surgical patients prior to operations has been found to work in a similar way. Giving patients detailed information about the entire perioperative period and expectations of postoperative pain and recovery reduced the patient’s negative reactions to the stressors encountered related to their surgery.

Setting expectations for intense feelings and events can mentally prepare us for stress, reducing anxiety.


Knowing what to expect regarding the physiological, emotional, and cognitive reactions we may encounter in a typical stressful environment removes the mystery. This decreases the distraction of attending to new sensations and activities in real-time and allows us to focus on the task at hand. Our sense of control is enhanced and our expectation of success increases. These are two important metrics that determine our actual performance.

A comprehensive preparatory information strategy describes events likely to occur during the transition to stressful conditions, addresses how we are likely to feel in those conditions, and provides information on how we can counter the undesired effects of stress. The next video will enhance our familiarity with possible stressors.