• Evaluating serious stress in military veterans, their carers and families: a protocol.

      Finnegan, Alan; orcid: 0000-0002-2189-4926; email: a.finnegan@chester.ac.uk; Di Lemma, L; Mcghee, S; orcid: 0000-0002-2006-8403; Watson, R (2021-02-05)
      In 2018, the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (ACFT) allocated approximately £4M to seven UK projects to address serious stress in military veterans, their carers and families. These programmes commenced between May and October 2019 and will conclude in August 2021.This paper outlines the protocol for the evaluation of the Serious Stress programme and the novel support provided to grant holders. Entry into the programmes was through multiple routes, including self-referrals with an anticipated sample of approximately 2000 participants. A common outcomes framework was designed to measure outcomes. Grant holders accepted ownership for data collection and quality and were supported through accompanying guidance material.Veterans were often reluctant to seek support, and the anonymous and confidential nature of the evaluation plus the study team's military background helped address this. Participants' voices were a key part in developing the protocol, leading to results to inform policy and highlight success, efficiency and cost effectiveness, and providing markers for future development.The study provided a reservoir of information. Interim reports indicated compliance with performance indicators and provided timely evidence. Shared learning provided grant holders with an indication of what was helping the beneficiaries and what needed to be improved. The combination of all data sets provided the ACFT with a resource to demonstrate success and insight into projects where improvement was required, and indicators of how to redress these problems. The study protocol provided a platform for building lasting partnerships. [Abstract copyright: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.]