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Title: The mental health of UK military partners and the variability between stages of deployment
Author: Bennett, Charlene
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 9569
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2017
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Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence of anxiety, depression, stress, perceived stress, and PTSD symptoms in a UK population of military partners. It also aimed to identify the extent of any relationships between these mental health outcomes and individual differences in previously implicated risk factors (including demographic characteristics and attachment styles) – as well as whether mental health outcomes vary by stage of deployment. Method: A cross-sectional cohort study (n=380) was performed on a sample of UK military partners. A survey was developed and disseminated online which included a number of validated questionnaires measuring constructs of distress (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-42), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale-10), traumatic stress (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-5) and attachment anxiety and avoidance (Experiences in Close Relationships- Revised). Measurement of defence mechanisms (DSQ-40) has been included within the extended paper for secondary analysis. Results: The results indicate clinical levels of depression, anxiety, stress and perceived stress in military partners and significantly greater levels of distress when compared with prevalence rates in general adult and clinical populations. A number of demographic and deployment specific variables appear to be associated with elevated levels of distress including age, length of relationship, a currently deployed partner and anxious and avoidant attachment styles. Analysis comparing the different stages of deployment found significantly higher depression and stress scores ‘on’ deployment compared to ‘post’ deployment and significantly higher perceptions of stress ‘post and pre’ stage of deployment compared to ‘post’ deployment. Attachment avoidance was also statistically more likely ‘post’ deployment compared to ‘on’ deployment. There were no significant differences on defence mechanisms according to stage of 3 deployment. Findings are discussed in relation to previous evidence and future directions of clinical practice and research. Conclusions: Findings indicate the need for more replicable research to provide evidence for the prevalence of mental health difficulties in a sample of UK military partners. Longitudinal and repeated measure designs would provide a more reliable understanding and clarity of mental health across the stages of deployment. Qualitative accounts might provide a rich and in-depth understanding of the factors mediating and moderating the elevated levels of distress found in this study of military partners. Qualitative enquiry might also provide opportunities to explore other processes underlying the varied levels of distress dependent on stage of deployment, found in this study, and the implications of these. Future research might need to consider how to reduce limitations associated with sampling and study design, though at present, the results provide preliminary support for more specialist and readily accessible mental health services for military partners. Statement of Contribution On completion of this project the majority of responsibility related to design, ethical approval, review of the literature, recruitment, the online survey tool, analysis and write-up has lay with the trainee clinical psychologist. The supervisors involved; Dr Rachel Sabin Farrell, Prof Nigel Hunt and Dr Nima Moghaddam gave advice and support regarding the project design, literature review, recruitment, analysis and write-up. Summative feedback regarding the study design, ethical approval, literature review and analysis was also given by academic tutors on the Trent Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, namely; Dr David Dawson and Dr Roshan Das Nair through their examination and feedback of the original research proposal. Other ethical and practical considerations were also discussed during a research annual review involving Dr Hannah Meridian of the University of Lincoln. Regarding recruitment and the design of the online survey, the assistance of military personnel was invaluable in ensuring language was correct and pitch was appropriate. Aim: This review examined the impact of deployment on military personnel partners’ psychological wellbeing. Method: A systematic search of electronic databases, reference lists and Internet sources identified twelve studies for review. All of the studies assessed the impact of deployment on one or more element of psychological health of military partners. Only articles that were peer-reviewed, written in English language and adopting a quantitative design were included. Results: Outcomes from the studies suggested increased levels of depression, anxiety, stress and distress in partners of currently deployed personnel. Results from the methodological quality, however, shows outcomes are not supported by robust research designs and analysis. Conclusion: Overall, the results suggest psychological difficulties in partners of deployed personnel are pertinent, however, conclusions are severely limited to draw any sound conclusions. Recommendations for future research are made.
Supervisor: Bromnick, Rachel ; Moghaddam, Nima Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: C800 Psychology