Understanding Unique Factors of Social Isolation and Loneliness of Military Veterans: A Delphi Study

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherNorthumbria University
Number of pages68
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Publication type

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract

Social isolation and loneliness are recognised societal issues, and it is estimated that between 5% and 18% of adults in the United Kingdom feel that they are ‘often’ or ‘always’ lonely (Co-Op Foundation and The Red Cross, 2016; Office for National Statistics, 2018). Furthermore, social isolation and loneliness are highlighted as being central to the narratives of military veterans, and the Armed Forces Community (Kiernan et al., 2018; Stapleton, 2018; Wilson, Hill, & Kiernan, 2018).
This study aimed to gather expert consensus relating to the cause, impact and ways to tackle social isolation and loneliness of military veterans. It builds on previous research conducted by the Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families Research, Northumbria University which highlighted that military veterans can experience social isolation and loneliness in a ‘unique’ way (Kiernan et al., 2018; Wilson, Hill & Kiernan, 2018). This ‘uniqueness’ is due to military-related intrinsic and extrinsic factors including number of transitions, military-related trauma such as limb loss, physical health and mobility, and losing touch with comrades (Kiernan et al., 2018; SSAFA, 2017; Stapleton, 2018; Wilson et al., 2018).
Using the Delphi method (Helmer-Hirschberg, 1967) to gather expert consensus of military veterans’ social isolation and loneliness, this study aimed to:• Further explore the concept that veterans are considered as being ‘unique’ to adults to the general population, and other members of the armed forces community in their experiences of social isolation and loneliness.• Consider whether older veterans are ‘unique’ to younger veterans in their experiences of social isolation and loneliness.• Examine perceived factors leading to social isolation and loneliness of veterans.• Identify perceptions of how to tackle veterans’ social isolation and loneliness.

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