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Life after serving my country: Development, Implementation and Evaluation of a Psychosocial Intervention for Retired Athletes and Military Service People with Addictive Behaviours


Project Description

Depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance abuse are all common problems for retired athletes. Although various governing bodies and sport institutes have developed career transition programmes to assist individuals to develop careers outside sport, career transition support for retired athletes who are exposed to addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling is under researched. Drugs, alcohol and gambling are recognised as negative coping skills following career termination which requires behaviour changes. The case of retired military service personnel does not differ much from the case of retired athletes regarding addiction issues. In the case of the USA, substance use disorders (SUDs) are a significant problem among military veterans and are associated with numerous deleterious effects. The existing literature on post-deployment issues has derived from predominantly USA-based research. Although the veterans’ post-deployment issues in the UK context is under-researched, there is one interesting research related to the mental health of the UK Armed Forces. Rates of common mental health disorders in UK troops are similar or higher to those of the general population, and overall operational deployments are not associated with an increase in mental health problems in UK regular forces. However, there does appear to be a correlation between both deployment and increased alcohol misuse and post-deployment violence in combat troops

From Hero to Nobody
Both groups of retired athletes and veterans have contributed to enhance national prestige and elevate the nation’s reputation during their careers. Once they retire, they face threats to their identity and mental health issues which require ‘coping skills’ (including appropriate social support) for healthy transition.

This is a novel approach of investigating two significant groups in the field of career transition in one project. The proposed research project is an interdisciplinary research work of psychology (social identity, social support, psychological skills, behaviour modification), management (organisational support, support system development), and health sciences (addiction treatment).

The primary objectives of the proposed research project are to
1) Identify the target groups’ needs and capture the commonality and differences between the two groups
2) Develop a psycho-social intervention for the target groups based upon their needs
3) Implement (Pilot) and evaluate a developed intervention

The main goal of this project is to develop a novel psychosocial intervention that can contribute to enabling retired athletes and military service personnel to understand their social identities and available social support and to develop psychological/mental skills to apply to their transitions process without addiction to negative behaviours such as drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Our focus is on how we can help them overcome identity crisis associated with retirement and develop their competence in psychological skills for their healthy transitions. This contribution would not be only limited to the targeted groups but it has potential to be applied to a wider population that is venerable and exposed to the risk of addictions.

Funding Notes

Further information relating to fees and funding can be found here: View Website

Entry Requirements
The successful candidate should have:
• A 1st or 2: 1 degree in a sports studies, sports psychology, sports management or social sciences
• A Masters degree in a relevant topic area (e.g. sports psychology, sports management, health sciences, social sciences) including research methods modules as part of the course.
• Where applicable, an overall IELTS of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each element.

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