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Title: Military separation : effects and mitigating factors : a mixed methods study : does separation relate to retention? : how does acceptance of separation develop?
Author: Donnelly, Joan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 8440
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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Increasing operational commitments mean that military personnel are often separated from their family. Two main concerns arise: what is the impact on the serving person and family? Does increased time away from home affect retention in the Services? A review of relevant literature shows that much of the research to date has treated these as separate outcomes. Several possible research designs are considered. A pragmatist position, asserting that the research question is of primary importance in the choice of methods, is adopted. The design used is a sequential (two phase) explanatory design: quantitative followed by qualitative. A survey was conducted, with 2050 responses. Three hypotheses were tested using Analysis of Covariance. First, that separated service is associated with retention. This is supported, and a U shaped relationship is found, with both very high and low separation associated with decreased likelihood of retention. Second, some demographic groups tolerate less separation than others, before leaving. This is supported, (e.g. single personnel tolerate more separation than married). Third, increased separation from family has social impacts that in turn affect retention. This too is supported. Findings are discussed in terms of whether they fit with previous research, and whether theoretical perspectives can help to interpret the findings. A number of questions followed that are best addressed using qualitative research: How do people develop an understanding that "separation is part of the job"? And does this idea change and develop through their career? These are explored using Grounded Theory. Data collection from a total of six participants is described. Semi-structured interviews were designed to encourage interviewees to talk about experiences of separation from the point at which they joined the military, to the point at which they left. Four were interviewed in depth, with interviews transcribed. Line-by-line coding was followed by application of the constant comparison method. An initial model was drafted, and a further two interviewees were included to test fit and relevance. A Grounded Theory of separation is stated. Separated service is seen as part of the job for many military personnel. Those who state that they accept separation appear to understand what it means to be separated differently at different times, and so acceptance and understanding differ. Two core themes are: how understanding develops and changes, and what influences acceptance of separation. The data suggest a strong temporal aspect to understanding, with understanding developing alongside usual through-life changes. Acceptance of separation may be facilitated by the perception of benefits to the serving person, and may be tempered by features of the separation, and features of the serving person and family. Individuals' self-image may be affected by how they have dealt with separation in the past.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Occ.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available