Background Each year approximately 2000 UK service personnel are medically discharged with physical and/or psychological injury or illness. While there is much research on both psychological injury and physical injury, the challenges of transition relating to the intersection between the two has received less attention. This article reports on the first phase of a 2-year funded study with the aim to understand the lived experiences of veterans who have been discharged from service with a physical injury or illness and the impacts of this on their mental health.
Methods Using a qualitative methodology, 22 veterans who had been discharged from service within the last 8 years were interviewed to identify key aspects of their experience of the transition process.
Results The article highlights two key themes: how some veterans adjusted to life with a physical injury or condition; and, the intersections that became apparent between physical injury and mental health. The challenges that veterans faced were shaped by the transition process and by the way in which the medical discharge process was conducted.
Conclusions Consideration of improvements to the medical discharge process could influence better outcomes for those who have left with a physical injury or illness and later find themselves struggling with mental health issues.
- qualitative research
- depression & mood disorders
- orthopaedic & trauma surgery
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Collaborators Celia Hynes, Lisa Scullion, Cormac Lawler, Rebecca Steel, Paul Boland.
Contributors CH: principal investigator, planned the study, undertook fieldwork, analysed data, contributed to writing, submitted the study. LS: co-investigator, assisted in planning the study, undertook fieldwork, analysed data, contributed to writing. CL: research fellow, undertook literature review, field work reviewed and wrote sections of the study. RS: research assistant, reviewed the literature and proofread the study. PB: research assistant, proofread the study. CH: led, contributed to writing, reviewed and submitted the paper. LS: contributed to writing and reviewing the paper. CL: contributed to writing and reviewing the paper. RS and PB: proofread the study.
Funding This research is funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (understanding the transition to civilian life for ex-service personnel with physical conditions as a direct result of service or acquired while in service), a Charitable Trust founded by a £35 million endowment from the Big Lottery Fund (now The National Lottery Community Fund).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval The study was granted ethical approval by the University of Central Lancashire and MoDREC.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. De-identified participant data are included in table 1.
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