The biopsychosocial benefits and shortfalls for armed forces veterans engaged in archaeological activities
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractBackground Organised outdoor activates are advocated as promoting multiple benefits for a veteran's wellbeing, of whom up to 50% have suffered either/both physical and mental health (MH) problems. This has resulted in significant investment in a growing number of outdoor events, one of which is the Defence Archaeology Group (DAG) which utilise the technical and social aspects of field archaeology in the recovery and skill development of injured veterans. Objective To advance knowledge within veterans MH and wellbeing through an understanding of the potential long term psychological benefits and shortfalls for veterans undertaking DAG activities. Design A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to enable identification of the issues from the participant veteran's perspective. Setting: DAG archaeological excavations in April and August 2015. Method Semi-structured interviews with 14 veterans. Results The qualitative coding resulted in the indication of 18 categories subsumed within four clusters: motivation and access; mental health; veteran and teamwork; therapeutic environment and leadership. Discussion The psychological benefits were improved self-esteem, confidence, a reduction in stigma and motivation to seek help. The reduction in situational stressors associated with difficult life conditions also appeared to improve mood, and there was a clear benefit in being in a caring environment where other people actively paid an interest. There were extended social benefits associated with being accepted as part of a team within a familiar military environment, which presented an opportunity to establish friendships and utilise military skill sets. Conclusion Organised outdoor activities offer multi-factorial hope for veterans searching for ways to ease the transition to civilian life and recover from military stress and trauma. The relaxing and reflective environment within a military setting appears to construct a sense of personal safety and thereby offers therapeutic value.
CitationFinnegan, A. (2016). The biopsychosocial benefits and shortfalls for armed forces veterans engaged in archaeological activities. Nurse Education Today, 47, 15-22. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2016.03.009
JournalNurse Education Today
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