Next Phase of the KCMHR Health and Wellbeing Cohort Study Launched
Did you take part in the last phase of our study in 2014-2016? We are calling on you again!
People who currently serve and those who have left the UK Armed Forces face unique challenges that can affect their health and wellbeing. The intensity of service life, difficulties transitioning to civvy street, and exposure to traumatic events can have long term impacts, not just on the service person but also on their families.
Since 2003, the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), King’s College London, have followed up the long-term health and wellbeing of those who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan deployments. We have advised governments and charities how the UK Armed Forces can best be supported.
Why do we need you?
We have now launched the next phase of the study! We want to get back in touch with all those service and ex-service personnel (veterans) who took part in the last phase of our study (2014-2016). We are interested to see how their health has changed over time and how they are doing overall. As many of the participants have now left the Armed Forces, we are interested in their experiences of leaving and transitioning into civilian life.
Why is it important for participants to continue to take part?
- The research provides evidence to the government and other organisations to help change policy and generate support for the Armed Forces community.
- The evidence will help others in the Armed Forces community in the future by providing evidence to improve support and give voice to people who have served.
- The evidence can bust myths about the impact of serving in the Armed Forces – highlighting positive outcomes and not promoting negative stereotypes that veterans are ‘mad, bad and sad’.
As a thank you for taking part in our study, there will be an opportunity to enter a prize draw to win between £25 and £1000. (Prizes: 1 x £1000, 2 x £500, 5 x £100, 5 x £50, 10 x £25). Entering the prize draw will be on an opt-in basis for those who complete the questionnaire.
In the last phase of our study, we found the majority of UK Armed Forces remained healthy, however there was an important minority who experienced mental health problems. We found that the most common mental health problems experienced by UK Armed Forces continued to be depression, anxiety, and alcohol misuse.
We also found a small rise in the levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced by participants from 4% to 6%, however when we dug down into the details, we found that individuals who had left service and were deployed in a combat arms role were most at risk of PTSD, which rose to 17% in this group.
If we had not been able to continue our study, we would not have known this increased risk with regards to ex-service personnel and we would not have had such good evidence to advise the Ministry of Defence, NHS, Office for Veterans’ Affairs, and many other statutory and charitable organisations who make policy and provide support for the Armed Forces.
Our study also provides research-based evidence on areas such as employment, relationships, and family life. If you want to find out more about specific policies that our study contributed to, keep an eye on our twitter over the next few months where we will be tweeting examples of our impact.
Who can take part?
If you have participated in the last phase (2014/16) of the Health and Wellbeing Study and consented to be contacted again, we would like to hear from you. This is a closed cohort, meaning that only previous participants are eligible to complete the survey. Therefore, your voices are extremely important to us. We will invite you to take part by filling in an online questionnaire or paper copy if preferred. Please check your email inboxes for an email from us at KCMHR. We may also have sent you a text or a postal invite letter asking you to take part. If you have not received one, or if you think we might have the wrong contact details, please get in touch with us by emailing us at [email protected] or by calling us on +44 7723 476249. Many of you have already completed the questionnaire, so a big thank you already!
For more information on the study, please see the study website here. Participation is completely voluntary, and an individual’s identity and responses are entirely confidential. It is important for us to hear from as many of you as possible. We’d like to hear from you even if you are generally doing well.
How can I get involved if I'm not eligible to take part?
If you are not eligible for this study, but want to support our work, KCMHR has many other studies that need support. For example, we are recruiting participants for the UK Veterans Family Study, a research project that aims to investigate and understand the experiences of spouses/intimate partners and adult children (18+ years) of UK Armed Forces veterans. Please see here for more information.
If you are still serving, a veteran or a reservist, and have concerns about your health and wellbeing, you can see our guide on our study website which includes details of organisations that may be able to offer support and guidance for a range of issues that may be affecting you. The study is funded by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs. However, we are a fully independent academic research group.
Principal Investigators: Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Professor Nicola Fear, Dr Sharon Stevelink.