Veteran & Occupation Impact Evaluation Study

Study ID: 32522
Short Title: VOICE Study
Organisation: Solent NHS Trust
Location: Solent NHS Trust
Condition: Mental Health
Main Specialty: Mental Health
Expected End Date: 31/07/2018
Postcode: PO3 6AD
Contact Name: Solent Research
Contact Email:
Active: Yes

Inclusion Criteria

Four participant sub-groups will be recruited:

1) 25 older veterans (≥ 65 years),

2) 25 similarly aged, non-veterans (≥ 65 years),

3) 10 older veterans (≥ 65 years), who have previously experienced mental health difficulties, and

4) a close companion of all veteran and non-veteran participants (i.e. persons, either family or non-family, who are important to the participant, ≥ 18 years). For the purpose of this study, veterans are defined as individuals who report having served in the UK armed forces for 5 years or more but are no longer serving. Non-veterans are defined as individuals who have not served in the armed forces and worked in another profession for ≥5 years, such as a teacher, commercial driver, building site workman, skilled labourers, emergency services, security personnel, etc.

Exclusion Criteria

Exclusion criteria: history of organic brain damage or current cognitive impairment; inability to speak English within the participant or their close companion; currently presenting with self-injurious behaviour or suicidal intent or active serious mental health problems. In principal, veteran and non-veteran participants will only be able to participate provided they have a close companion willing to participate; however, if significant recruitment difficulties are experienced due to this criteria, participants may be accepted without the participation of a close companion.

Study summary:

The number of older veterans in the UK is growing, with 46% of the ex-service community aged 75 years and older (Royal British Legion, 2014). This is in contrast to the 10% of the UK population that are aged 75 and older. However, little is known about the impact of military service on the life of older veterans. The limited available research indicates that military service may have implications for physical health later in life. Research with WWII veterans has found an increased cardiovascular risk compared with recent surgical and heart patients (Falger et al., 1992). Military service has also been found to be associated with negative psychological outcomes in older veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression (Averill & Beck, 2000; Royal British Legion, 2014).However, research in the general population has found many elderly individuals to report depression and physical health problems (Cotten et al., 2014; Fiske et al., 2009). Therefore, it remains unclear whether or not the physical and mental health needs of older veterans are a result of their military service or a feature of ageing. To address this gap, the current research will use mixed-methods to examine the impact of occupation on the life course; examine perceptions of military service; explore the effect of occupation on mental health; and investigate the impact of occupation on physical wellbeing. Older veterans (≥ 65 years), non-veterans (≥ 65 years) and their close companions will be interviewed and complete questionnaires to discover more about their experiences. The study will run from 05/12/16-30/07/18 and participants will be recruited from several avenues, including GP practices, mental health services, third sector organisation working with veterans, and walk-in centres. The findings from this study stand to inform clinical practice by providing clinicians with a more thorough understanding of the needs of older veterans.

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