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Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme

Flow chart of Transistion and Wellbeing Research program

The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme (Programme) is the most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia that examines the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of:

  • serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members including those who have been deployed in contemporary conflicts, and
  • their families.

It is only the second study of its type in the world that provides an in-depth understanding of life for transitioned military personnel. Canada conducted the other study.

The two of eight Programme technical reports, Mental Health Prevalence and Pathways to Care along with a report summarising the key findings of these reports is now available (Links will be provided soon)

Research approach

The Programme further extends and builds on the findings of the world-leading research conducted with current serving members of the ADF in the 2010 Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP).

Conducted in 2015, the research arises from the collaborative partnership between DVA and the Department of Defence. It aims to implement the Government’s goal of ensuring that current and future policy, programs and services are responsive to the current and emerging health and wellbeing needs of serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families before, during and after transition from military life.

Through surveys and interviews, the researchers engaged with a range of DVA clients and ADF members including:

  • ADF members who transitioned from the Regular ADF between 2010 and 2014 (including Ex-Serving, Active and Inactive Reservists)
  • a random sample of Regular ADF members serving in 2015
  • a sample of Ab-initio Reservists serving in 2015 (who have never been full-time ADF members)
  • 2015 Regular ADF and Transitioned ADF members who participated in MilHOP
  • family members nominated by the above.

Ten objectives were developed to guide the Programme. The objectives are being realised through three studies comprising eight reports: the Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study (five reports and two papers), the Impact of Combat Study (one report), the Family Wellbeing Study (one report) and the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme Key Findings Report, which summarises the research, as the diagram above shows. The table below shows which reports deliver on the objectives.

Programme objectives Corresponding reports and papers

1. Determine the prevalence of mental disorders among ADF members who have transitioned from Regular ADF service between 2010 and 2014.

2. Examine self-reported mental health status of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF.

Mental Health Prevalence Report - Link will be provided soon
3. Assess pathways to care for Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF, including those with a diagnosed mental disorder.  Pathways to Care Report - Link will be provided soon
4. Examine the physical health status of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF. Physical Health Status Report
5. Investigate technology and its utility for health and mental health programmes including implications for future health service delivery. Technology Use and Wellbeing Report
6. Conduct predictive modelling of the trajectory of mental health symptoms/disorder of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF, removing the need to rely on estimated rates Mental Health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective Report
7. Investigate the mental health and wellbeing of currently serving 2015 Ab-initio Reservists. The Health and Wellbeing of ADF Reservists Paper
8. Examine the factors that contribute to the wellbeing of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF Psychosocial Predictors of Health Paper
9. Follow up on the mental, physical and neurocognitive health and wellbeing of participants who deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations between 2010 and 2012. Impact of Combat Report
10. Investigate the impact of ADF service on the health and wellbeing of the families of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF. Family Wellbeing Report
All objectives Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme Key Findings Report

Research rigour

Two eminent Australian research institutions, one specialising in trauma and the other in families, are leading the research programme. The Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide is conducting the Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study and the Impact of Combat Study, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies is conducting the Family and Wellbeing Study.

Their research expertise is enhanced through partner institutions from Monash University, the University of New South Wales, Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and, until June 2016, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, the work of which is being continued through Innowell.

Investigators

The Transition and Wellbeing Programme brings together internationally renowned researchers including Dr Miranda Van Hooff , Prof Alexander McFarlane and Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood from the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at The University of Adelaide; Dr Stephanie Hodson from the Department of Veterans' Affairs; COL Nicole Sadler from Phoenix Australia- Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, University of Melbourne; Ms Helen Benassi from The Australian National University; Prof David Forbes from Phoenix Australia - Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, University of Melbourne; Dr Galina Daraganova, Dr Helena Romaniuk, Dr Diana Warren, Dr Jacquie Harvey, Dr Stewart Muir, Kelly Hand, A/Prof Ben Edwards from the Australian Institute of Family Studies; Prof Richard Bryant from the University of New South Wales; Prof Helen Kelsall, Prof Malcolm Sim and Prof Jeffrey Rosenfeld from Monash University; and A/Prof Jane Burns from Innowell Pty Ltd, formerly the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.

Scientific Advisory Committee

An independent Scientific Advisory Committee made up of esteemed members with a specific interest in Defence and veteran mental health and specialising in managing statistical analysis oversees this research Programme. The members are:

  • Co chair, Surgeon General Australian Defence Force Reserves, Department of Defence, RADM Jenny Firman
  • Co chair, Principal Medical Advisor, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Dr Ian Gardner
  • General Manager, Population and Social Statistics Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Dr Paul Jelfs
  • Australian Research Council Future Fellow National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Prof Lyndall Strazdins
  • Professorial Fellow, Mental Health and Social Issues, University of Melbourne; Honorary Professor, Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, The Australian National University, Peter Butterworth
  • Emeritus Professor, former Director National Institute of Mental Health Research, Kathy Griffiths
  • Professorial Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Prof Mark Creamer
  • Commissioner, National Mental Health Commission and Member of the Veteran Mental Health Clinical Reference Group, Prof Ian Hickie
  • Professor, Epidemiology and Occupational Medicine, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Tim Driscoll
  • Specialist Health Reserve - Air Force; Public Health, Epidemiologist, GPCAPT Lisa Jackson Pulver
  • Clinical Director Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, Mental Health Division, Professor of Psychiatry, Flinders University, Malcolm Battersby.

The Programme communicates its key findings and progress to ex-service organisations through the Young Veterans - Contemporary Needs Forum.

Further information is available on the following at:

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