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Caring for the carers: an evaluation of the recovery, readjustment and reintegration programme (R3P)


Introduction The challenges faced by healthcare workers, not least during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been extensively studied, and concerns continue to be highlighted in relation to their long-term mental health. Identifying the need to support their personnel, a leader-led structured programme of reflection: the recovery, readjustment and reintegration programme (R3P) was designed by the UK Defence Medical Services to mitigate the potential stressors associated with this outbreak and enhance the resilience of the workforce.

Methods 128 military personnel completed an evaluation of R3P. A survey included measures of anxiety before and after the intervention, perceptions of the discussion themes and whether these brought a sense of closure to areas of distress, and attitudes to help-seeking.

Results Most respondents (86%–92%) rated the five discussion themes either ‘helpful’ or ‘very helpful’, 51% of respondents reported a sense of closure about an issue that had been causing distress and 72% of respondents felt better able to seek help should it be necessary. Evaluating the effect R3P had on anxiety, a Wilcoxon signed rank test elicited a statistically significant difference in anxiety pre-R3P and post-R3P; Z=−3.54, p<0.001. The median anxiety rating was 3.5 (IQR 4.75, 95% CI 1.25 to 6.00) before undertaking R3P, which decreased to 3 (IQR 4.75, 95% CI 1.00 to 5.75) after undertaking R3P. 39.1% of participants reported decreased anxiety, 18.8% reported increased anxiety and 42.2% reported no change.

Conclusion This evaluation has identified several positive aspects to R3P with many personnel reporting a reduction in anxiety, a sense of closure and increased likelihood of help-seeking. Several participants did report an increase in anxiety and the long-term impact of R3P on mental health and well-being is unclear. Further mixed-methods evaluation incorporating a longer follow-up is required.

  • mental health
  • public health
  • COVID-19

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