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      Towards Online Social Support for Former Military Personnel


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      The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

      Human Computer Interaction

      12 - 14 September 2012

      UK Armed Forces, Combat–related PTSD, mTBI, Resettlement, Online Social Community

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          The Armed Forces comprise a series of tight-knit communities sharing values and experiences, which provide a complete social and work-life network. Leaving the Forces is a significant life event, which in some people can lead to psychological and social problems, especially for younger members, those with existing mental disorders, and those who may be developing combat-related psychological conditions. We are examining the extent to which a dedicated online network constructed to reflect military social groupings might counter this, and provide connectivity between former comrades, plus a very wide range of useful information, from job seeking and family advice, to counselling and therapy. There are some 4.8m ex-Service personnel in the UK (McManus, Meltzer Brugha, Bebbington and Jenkins 2007,).

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          Combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health problems, and barriers to care.

          The current combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have involved U.S. military personnel in major ground combat and hazardous security duty. Studies are needed to systematically assess the mental health of members of the armed services who have participated in these operations and to inform policy with regard to the optimal delivery of mental health care to returning veterans. We studied members of four U.S. combat infantry units (three Army units and one Marine Corps unit) using an anonymous survey that was administered to the subjects either before their deployment to Iraq (n=2530) or three to four months after their return from combat duty in Iraq or Afghanistan (n=3671). The outcomes included major depression, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which were evaluated on the basis of standardized, self-administered screening instruments. Exposure to combat was significantly greater among those who were deployed to Iraq than among those deployed to Afghanistan. The percentage of study subjects whose responses met the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD was significantly higher after duty in Iraq (15.6 to 17.1 percent) than after duty in Afghanistan (11.2 percent) or before deployment to Iraq (9.3 percent); the largest difference was in the rate of PTSD. Of those whose responses were positive for a mental disorder, only 23 to 40 percent sought mental health care. Those whose responses were positive for a mental disorder were twice as likely as those whose responses were negative to report concern about possible stigmatization and other barriers to seeking mental health care. This study provides an initial look at the mental health of members of the Army and the Marine Corps who were involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our findings indicate that among the study groups there was a significant risk of mental health problems and that the subjects reported important barriers to receiving mental health services, particularly the perception of stigma among those most in need of such care. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            What happens to British veterans when they leave the armed forces?

            Little is known about the factors associated with leaving the armed forces, or what predicts subsequent employment success for veterans. It is likely that there is a complex interaction of adverse social outcomes and mental health status in this group. Analysis of existing data from the King's Military Cohort, a large, randomly selected, longitudinal cohort of service personnel, many of whom have now left the armed forces. The sample consisted of 8195 service personnel who served in the armed forces in 1991; a third deployed to the Gulf (1990-91), a third deployed to Bosnia (1992-97) and the final third an 'Era' control group in the Armed Forces in 1991 but not deployed. The majority of service leavers do well after leaving and are in full-time employment. Those with poor mental health during service were more likely to leave and had a greater chance of becoming unemployed after leaving. Mental health problems appear to remain static for veterans after leaving. Veterans of the Gulf War enjoyed more favourable employment outcomes, provided that they came home well. Only a minority of veterans fare badly after service, even amongst those with active tours of duty behind them. Veterans with mental health problems during service seem to be at higher risk of social exclusion after leaving and therefore these individuals represent an especially vulnerable group of the veteran population.
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              Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in U.S. combat veterans: a meta-analytic review.

              Among U.S. veterans who have been exposed to combat-related trauma, significantly elevated rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are reported. Veterans with PTSD are treated for the disorder at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals through a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions. Given the significant impairment associated with PTSD, it is imperative to assess the typical treatment response associated with these interventions. 24 studies with a total sample size of 1742 participants were quantitatively reviewed. Overall, analyses showed a medium between-groups effect size for active treatments compared to control conditions. Thus, the average VA-treated patient fared better than 66% of patients in control conditions. VA treatments incorporating exposure-based interventions showed the highest within-group effect size. Effect sizes were not moderated by treatment dose, sample size, or publication year. Findings are encouraging for treatment seekers for combat-related PTSD in VA settings.

                Author and article information

                September 2012
                September 2012
                : 1-4
                Scars of War Foundation

                Queens College, Oxford University
                © Morten Kringelbach et al. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction, Birmingham, UK

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

                The 26th BCS Conference on Human Computer Interaction
                Birmingham, UK
                12 - 14 September 2012
                Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
                Human Computer Interaction
                Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
                Self URI (journal page): https://ewic.bcs.org/
                Electronic Workshops in Computing


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