Living alongside military PTSD: a qualitative study of female partners’ experiences with UK Veterans

April, 2017

This paper explores the potential emotional burden on partners of military veterans with mental health difficulties, in particular post-traumatic stress disorder.


An increased risk of emotional burden in partners of military Veterans with mental health difficulties has been observed. This study aimed to explore the experiences and needs of female partners of Veterans seeking help. Our sample of eight female partners was drawn from a population of help-seeking Veterans who had received treatment for PTSD. Qualitative data were collected using a semi-structured interview schedule. Super-ordinate themes of challenges faced, desired type of support, and barriers to support were each described by a set of sub-themes. Challenges faced were described with the themes of inequality in relationship, loss of congruence with own identity, volatile environment, and emotional distress and isolation. Desired type of support was described by the themes of practical focus on improving, sharing with fellow experts, and support tailored to the partner. Barriers to support were described by the themes feeling restricted by practical barriers and ambivalence about the involvement of others. Interventions to support partners of Veterans with mental health difficulties need to address their individual needs, focus on practical techniques, and consider practical limitations.

Full Reference

Murphy D, Palmer E, Hill K, Ashwick R, Busuttil W. Living alongside military PTSD: a qualitative study of female partners' experiences with UK Veterans. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health 2017; 3(1):52-61.

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