Background Local authorities and other service providers need data on their local ex-military communities to be able to plan services. However, published research and data may not be applicable to the local population. Qualitative research offers a relatively low-cost way to get insights into the needs of local ex-military communities.
Methods A pilot study using in-depth interviews with a small convenience sample of former ex-Army residents of Tameside. Framework analysis was used to identify and group themes arising from the data. This study was conducted using the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research.
Results While participants saw mental health as a particular challenge, they felt that it tends to get disproportionate attention relative to other needs. The study identified potential barriers to accessing health services that arise from an interaction between aspects of military and civilian healthcare culture and practices. Participants also said that military service could affect the health of both partners and children and that these effects might be more pronounced at key times, such as during adolescence.
Conclusion Participants’ perceptions of the health of former members of the Armed forces reflect the published epidemiological literature. This suggests that qualitative data can be valid for understanding the health needs of local ex-military communities. Further research is needed to test the findings here with a broader group of ex-military personnel, to explore the barriers faced in accessing healthcare and to understand the health needs of the families of ex-service personnel.
- qualitative research
- health needs assessment
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Contributors SLS designed the study, conducted the interviews, transcribed the data, carried out the analysis and drafted the manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.