There is a lack of evidence concerning UK Armed Forces veterans who access secondary mental health care services — specialist care often delivered in high intensity therapeutic clinics or hospitals — for their mental health difficulties. To compound this, there is currently no flag or indicator for identifying veterans in England or Wales that is routinely filled out. Therefore, with the support of the Forces in Mind Trust, we embarked on a study to identify those who have served in the Armed Forces, and then to analyse treatment and healthcare pathways.
What is neat about this study is that we included pre and post national service era veterans. As we believe it was important to consider and compare that those who carried out National Service before 1963 may not have voluntarily entered the Armed Forces, as it was a legal requirement to serve in the Armed Forces and those who entered voluntarily.
We found that veterans had a median age of 74 years (IQR: 53–86); the majority were male (90.8%) and lived alone (38.0%). The most common mental diagnoses overall were depressive disorders (22.9%), followed by alcohol use disorders (10.5%). Differences in care pathways were observed between pre and post national service era veterans.
Reference: Identifying veterans using electronic health records in the United Kingdom: A feasibility study. Katharine M. Mark, Daniel Leightley, David Pernet, Dominic Murphy, Sharon A.M. Stevelink and Nicola T. Fear. MDPI Healthcare, 2019.