"He messaged me the other night and said you are my saviour": An interpretative phenomenological analysis of intimate partners’ roles in supporting Veterans with mental health difficulties

Hannah Johnstone, Nicola Cogan

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Abstract

Introduction: The limited research base regarding Veteran welfare has emphasized the adverse psychosocial aspects of being the intimate partner of a Veteran struggling with mental health difficulties. Despite this, previous research has identified that remaining in a romantic relationship can be a protective factor against mental health difficulties. This study aims to explore intimate partners’ views of the role they play in supporting Veterans with mental health difficulties and the personal meanings they associate with this role. Methods: Six female partners of male Veterans were recruited using purposive sampling. Qualitative data were collected using semi-structured one-on-one interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of partners of Veterans living with mental health difficulties. Results: Three superordinate themes were identified: 1) the multi-faceted nature of support, 2) vicarious psychosocial consequences of the caring role, and 3) reconstruction of a Veteran’s identity after transition. Discussion: Intimate partners of Veterans described how they supported Veterans experiencing mental health difficulties, as well as detailing the challenges they faced. Future research topics are considered, and recommendations for further support for intimate partners are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Military, Veteran and Family Health
Volume7
Issue number2
Early online date12 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • veterans
  • military
  • partners
  • mental health difficulties
  • recovery
  • IPA
  • caregiving
  • depression
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • intimate partners
  • PTSD

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