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Long-Term Military Work Outcomes in Soldiers Who Become Mental Health Casualties When Deployed on Operations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Norman Jones, Nicola T. Fear, Margaret Jones, Simon Wessely, Neil Greenberg

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352 - 364
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry (Washington, D.C.)
Volume73
Issue number4
PublishedDec 2010

King's Authors

Abstract

Background: Little is known about longer term military work outcomes in UK military personnel who develop mental health problems when operationally deployed. Deployed Field Mental Health Teams (FMHTs) who support them follow the principles of "Forward Psychiatry," aiming to treat psychiatric casualties close to the front line to maximize operational effectiveness and occupational retention. Aim: To examine the short- and long-term military work outcomes in soldiers deployed to Iraq between 2003 and 2007 who were referred to the FMHT. Method: FMHT clinical records were linked to occupational records with 825 resulting matches. Results: 71.6% of the referred soldiers with a documented short-term military work outcome returned to their operational unit, and 73.5 % of those who had a documented long-term military work outcome served on for a period in excess of two years. Adjusting for potential confounders, a shorter service length and removal from the operational theatre were both strongly associated with premature discharge; however, it was not possible to determine the severity of the presenting mental health problem and assess whether this impacted outcome. Conclusions: The results of this study support the use of the Forward Psychiatry principles in achieving good short-term military work outcomes. Utilizing these principles, three-quarters of those referred to the FMHT were returned to their deployed unit and approximately three-quarters of those assessed by the FMHT remained in service two years after referral. We suggest that these are positive work outcomes; however, being evacuated out of the operational environment and having a short service length were both associated with premature discharge, though we were unable to examine the role of illness severity.

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