Intermittent separation: Exploring the psycho-social impact on dispersed military families

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The perceived role and identity of the military family is shifting alongside new MOD and Government initiatives, increasing flexibility and encouraging stability of family life. Research has predominantly explored the psychological effects of operational deployments on military families; however, a gap remains in research pertaining to the impact of non-deployment related separations such as dispersal. This study aims to explore the psycho-social impact of intermittent separation on geographically dispersed military families.
A mixed methods, Explanatory Sequential Design was utilised with two phases and employed Pragmatism as the underpinning methodology. The purpose of the first phase was to provide an understanding on what is already known about dispersed military families and separation.
Phase 1a involved a systematic narrative review to answer the question: what is the impact of separation on military families? Eighteen papers were accepted for use in the review. Six themes were generated through thematic analysis: Stress, Depression, Psychological Well-Being, Relationships, Support and Life Experiences. Phase 1b reported geospatial analysis of publicly available data to determine if there was a suitable proxy variable for the geolocation of dispersed military families. No publicly available dataset was identified as a suitable proxy due to the number of limitations on the data.
Phase 2 provided primary research findings through semi-structured interviews with 28 spouses, partners and children of UK military personnel over the age of 16. Five themes were generated through Framework Analysis: Identity, Loneliness, Well-Being, Familial Relationships and Accessing Support.
Integration of findings proposed six overarching concepts in terms of existing theories and research: Military Identity, Loneliness, Stability and Dispersal, Psychological Well-Being, Resilience and Coping and Social Support. These concepts help to develop a broad understanding of the psycho-social impact of intermittent separation on dispersed military families that was not known before.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Wilson-Menzfeld, Gemma, Supervisor
  • Kiernan, Matt, Supervisor
  • Rodrigues, Michael, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date8 Jul 2021
Place of PublicationNewcastle Upon Tyne
Publication statusSubmitted - 30 Nov 2020


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