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Exploring the health risks of help-seeking military veterans living in different parts of the UK
  1. RL Ashwick1 and
  2. D Murphy1,2
  1. 1 Research Department, Tyrwhitt House, Combat Stress, Leatherhead, Surrey, UK
  2. 2 Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to RL Ashwick, Research Department, Tyrwhitt House, Combat Stress, Oaklawn Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 0BX, UK; rachel.ashwick{at}


Background Little is known about the mental and physical health differences of treatment-seeking military veterans across the different nations that make up the UK. The aim of this research was to explore potential health differences in order to support better service planning.

Methods A random cross-sectional sample of treatment-seeking veterans residing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was identified from a national mental health charity. 403 veterans completed a questionnaire highlighting their demographics, mental health and physical health difficulties. The data were analysed using a multinomial logistic regression with England as the baseline comparison.

Results Help-seeking veterans residing in Northern Ireland tended to be older, have experienced less childhood adversity, joined the military after the age of 18 and took longer to seek help. Additionally, veterans from Northern Ireland had higher levels of obesity, sensory, mobility and systemic problems and a greater number of physical health conditions. Scottish and Welsh veterans had a higher risk of smoking and alcohol misuse. No differences were found in mental health presentations.

Conclusion The findings from this paper suggest that a greater focus needs to be placed on treating physical problems in Northern Irish veterans. Alcohol misuse should be addressed in more detail in treatment programmes, particularly in Scotland and Wales. As few differences were found in the mental health presentations, this suggests that standardised services are adequate.

  • mental
  • physical
  • health
  • veterans
  • military
  • risk
  • nations
  • UK

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  • Contributors RA was the lead author for this study, was involved in the design of the study, developed the analytical strategy for the paper and wrote the manuscript. DM was the principal investigator for this study, was involved in the design of the study, developed the analytical strategy for the paper, conducted the analyses and edited and commented on the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Ministry of Defence Covenant Fund.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Combat Stress Ethics Committee.

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

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