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Title: The role of risk in the health behaviours of military personnel in the United Kingdom Armed Forces
Author: Verrall, Neil Gerard
ISNI:       0000 0004 2703 3232
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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Background. It has been suggested by some that the military may be predisposed to higher levels of sensation seeking than comparable civilian populations; however, there are mixed findings among the previously published literature. Furthermore, the risk-taking personality trait of 'impulsive sensation seeking' (ImpSS) among a military population has not previously been reported, therefore this study investigated ImpSS, perceptions of operational risk, risky health behaviours (alcohol, smoking, driving and sex) and psychological well-being (PWB) across an operational military deployment. Method. A longitudinal, repeated measures study collected questionnaire data among a brigade of UK army personnel across the phases of an operational deployment to Iraq in 2007. A sample within 1 Mechanised Brigade returned questionnaires at predeployment (N= 1374), mid-deployment (N= 889) and post-deployment (N= 537). Results. Levels of ImpSS were statistically higher in the current UK army sample than in previously reported civilian data. Consistent with previously published literature, the high-ImpSS (H-ImpSS) group tended to smoke (and smoke more), drink more alcohol, drive faster, wear seatbelts less, and engage in risky sexual behaviour more than those in the low-ImpSS (L-ImpSS) group. Additionally, the H-ImpSS group consistently displayed lower risk perceptions of the operational context across all phases of the deployment compared to the L-ImpSS group. Other results relating to PWB, and other aspects of risk behaviour are discussed. Conclusion. Observed differences between the high and low ImpSS military groups, in terms of risky health behaviours and risk perceptions, mirrored those found in the published sensation seeking literature. However, mean scores on military ImpSS were higher than comparable civilian norms for age and gender, suggesting a higher predisposition for the UK army sample. Additionally, changes in health behaviours and PWB across the deployment cycle show mixed findings and indicates a complex environment that requires further prospective, longitudinal investigation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available