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Veterans’ experiences of successfully managing post-traumatic stress disorder

Gemma Parry (Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programme, Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Suzanne Margaret Hodge (Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programme, Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Alan Barrett (Military Veterans' Service, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Ashton-under-Lyne, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 1 April 2021

Issue publication date: 27 May 2021

220

Abstract

Purpose

Prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among UK veterans is higher than in the general population. However, prevalence figures do not reflect the complexity of this phenomenon and ways in which it may be bound up with veterans’ experiences of adjusting to civilian life. The purpose of this study is to explore veterans’ experiences of successfully managing PTSD.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six veterans who had served in the UK armed forces and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Findings

Three themes were developed: accepting the problem, taking responsibility and gaining control; talking to the right people; and strategies, antidotes and circling back around. Managing PTSD appeared to be bound up with veterans’ experience of renegotiating their identity, where positive aspects of identity lost on leaving the military were rebuilt and problematic aspects were challenged. Participants sought to speak about their difficulties with others who understood the military context. They felt that their experiences made them a valuable resource to others, and they connected this with a positive sense of identity and value.

Practical implications

The findings suggest the importance of wider provision of peer support and education for civilian health services on veterans’ needs.

Originality/value

This study adds to the understanding of what meaningful recovery from PTSD may involve for veterans, in particular its potential interconnectedness with the process of adjusting to civilian life.

Keywords

Citation

Parry, G., Hodge, S.M. and Barrett, A. (2021), "Veterans’ experiences of successfully managing post-traumatic stress disorder", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 197-210. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-01-2020-0003

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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