The mental health of UK military partners and the variability between stages of deployment

Bennett, Charlene (2017) The mental health of UK military partners and the variability between stages of deployment. DClinPsy thesis, University of Lincoln.

29719 Charlene Thesis Final with poster.pdf
29719 Charlene Thesis Final with poster.pdf - Whole Document
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Item Type:Thesis (DClinPsy)
Item Status:Live Archive


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
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
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.

Keywords:Psychological, Mental Health, Impact, Deployment, Military, Partners
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:29719
Deposited On:23 Nov 2017 13:49

Repository Staff Only: item control page