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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

An evaluation of the psychological impact of operational rest and recuperation in United Kingdom Armed Forces personnel: a post-intervention survey

July, 2013
Article:

This study examines whether taking operational rest and recuperation (R&R) is associated with mental health status and furthermore identifies the elements of R&R associated with better mental health.

Abstract

Rest and Recuperation (R&R) is a period of home leave taken during an operational deployment; we sought to examine the relationship between mental health and taking R&R and mental health. In research undertaken, 12.1% of respondents (n=27) reported symptoms of common mental disorder and 3.7% (n=8) reported probable PTSD. 50.0% (n=110) reported hazardous use of alcohol during R&R. In the pre- and post-assessed sample, mental health status and alcohol use levels were similar at both survey points. Using principal component analysis, five components of R&R were identified; mentally switching off from deployment, travel experience, physical recovery, relaxation, rest and social support. R&R was extremely popular and although it did not improve mental health overall, the ability to engage with or derive satisfaction from aspects of the five components was significantly associated with better mental health and less alcohol use at the end of R&R. Operational commanders should advise personnel about the best way to actively engage with R&R before they leave theatre and be aware of the significant detrimental impact of disrupted travel arrangements upon the ability to benefit from R&R.

Full Reference

Jones N, Fertout M, Parsloe L, Greenberg N. (2013) An evaluation of the psychological impact of operational rest and recuperation in United Kingdom Armed Forces personnel: a post-intervention survey. J R Soc Med.

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