In 2018, the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (ACFT) allocated approximately £4M to seven UK projects to address serious stress in military veterans, their carers and families. These programmes commenced between May and October 2019 and will conclude in August 2021.
This paper outlines the protocol for the evaluation of the Tackling Serious Stress programme and the novel support provided to grant holders. Entry into the programmes was through multiple routes, including self-referrals with an anticipated sample of approximately 2000 participants. A common outcomes framework was designed to measure outcomes. Grant holders accepted ownership for data collection and quality and were supported through accompanying guidance material.
Veterans were often reluctant to seek support, and the anonymous and confidential nature of the evaluation plus the study team’s military background helped address this. Participants’ voices were a key part in developing the protocol, leading to results to inform policy and highlight success, efficiency and cost effectiveness, and providing markers for future development.
The study provided a reservoir of information. Interim reports indicated compliance with performance indicators and provided timely evidence. Shared learning provided grant holders with an indication of what was helping the beneficiaries and what needed to be improved. The combination of all data sets provided the ACFT with a resource to demonstrate success and insight into projects where improvement was required, and indicators of how to redress these problems. The study protocol provided a platform for building lasting partnerships.
- protocols & guidelines
- mental health
- anxiety disorders
- depression & mood disorders
- statistics & research methods
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Contributors AF: concept, development and research design, including questionnaires; principal investigator for the evaluation; primary author; obtained ethical approval, interpretation of results and author of the first draft. LDL, SM and RW: reviewing and critiquing of drafts; support with literature search, reviewing and critiquing of drafts; approval of final submission.
Funding This study was funded by Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (grant number 2018-108214).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained at the Faculty of Heath, REC, University of Chester (UoC). The Tackling Serious Stress evaluation was approved by the UoC’s Research Ethics Committee. The Centre applies systematic and structured access to the data at the earliest stage to ensure security of patient-identifiable information, and receives anonymous and confidential data, and the researchers do not know the identity of the participants. There was the potential that the studies' psychometric questionnaires would duplicate those being used for a clinical assessment. These factors were detailed in a comprehensive invitation letter, participant information sheet and informed consent form, and participants were given full transparency of the data storage requirements.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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