Psychosocial impact of visual impairment and coping strategies in female ex-Service personnel

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Abstract

ABSTRACT
Purpose To examine how vision loss affects the psychosocial
well-being of female ex-Service personnel and
how they cope with their visual impairment.
Method A cross-sectional study was conducted consisting
of two study phases. During phase 1, a questionnaire
was undertaken via the telephone with nine female
ex-Service personnel (all under 55 years of age) using
clinical screening measures to identify the probable presence
of the following mental health disorders: depression
(Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (Generalised
Anxiety Disorder Assessment), post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD, PTSD Checklist—Civilian) and alcohol
misuse (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). In
phase 2, eight of the participants were interviewed face
to face regarding the impact being visually impaired had
had on their daily lives.
Results Approximately 1 in 10 women screened positive
for probable depression, probable PTSD or alcohol
misuse; 1 in 5 fulfilled the criteria for probable anxiety
disorder. Participants struggled to adjust to the loss of
vision and its impact on their lives. They reported low
self-esteem, feeling down and social withdrawal. As time
went by, the women were able to apply various coping
strategies such as having a positive attitude, relearning
skills and integrating low vision aids in their daily
routine. However, some coping strategies, such as
alcohol misuse and lack of help-seeking when needed,
hindered participants’ success in adjusting to their visual
impairment.
Conclusions Sustaining a visual impairment negatively
affects psychosocial well-being in female ex-Service personnel.
Over time, participants learnt to cope with the
challenges and limitations associated with being visually
impaired.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-133
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Royal Army Medical Corps
Volume162
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2016

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