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Informal caregiving and intimate relationships: the experiences of spouses of UK military personnel
  1. Gursimran Thandi1,
  2. S Oram2,
  3. A Verey3,
  4. N Greenberg1 and
  5. N T Fear1
  1. 1Academic Department of Military Mental Health, King's College London, London, UK
  2. 2Health Services and Population Research, King's College London, London, UK
  3. 3King's Centre for Military Health Research, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Gursimran Thandi, 10 Cutcombe Road, Weston Education Centre, Denmark Hill, King's College London, London SE5 9RJ, UK; gursimran.thandi{at}


Aim Currently, there is no research available on the experiences of spouses providing informal care to wounded, injured or sick (WIS) UK military personnel. The aim of this study was to fill this gap by investigating the relationship experiences of non-military partners caring for WIS UK military personnel.

Methods Spouses of WIS military personnel (n=25) completed telephone interviews with the research team. The data were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. The transcripts were cross-coded and checked for inter-rater reliability.

Results Six major themes were identified: (1) communication between couples, (2) adverse family environment, (3) reintegration, (4) intimacy, (5) financial uncertainty and (6) transition from partner to caregiver.

Conclusions Partners caring for injured/ill military personnel appear to be at risk of experiencing personal distress caused by impaired relationship functioning, which may lead to diminished physical and mental well-being. Partners of WIS military personnel experience significant levels of distress and burden associated with caregiving in the form of arguments with the military partner, problems in reintegration and a lack of physical and emotional intimacy.

  • military
  • UK military
  • Informal caregiving
  • Informal caregiver
  • Caregiver burden
  • Injured personnel

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  • Contributors GKT and AV carried out data collection. GKT carried out data analysis. AV cross-coded transcripts. SO and NTF advised on analysis plan and writing up. NG advised on writing up the paper for publication.

  • Funding Funded by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) through Dstl via the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre.

  • Competing interests GKT, NTF, AV and NG are employed by the King's Centre for Military Health Research, and the Academic Department of Military Mental Health at King's College London, which receives funding from the UK Ministry of Defence.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval MODREC 502MOD13.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.