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Evaluation of the Group Emotional and Relationship Skills (GEARS) intervention among Australian veterans

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Abstract

The GEARS evaluation study is ongoing, and the primary objective is to evaluate the impact of the
GEARS program on a range of mental and psychosocial health outcomes, including mental health,
suicidality, access and usage of health care services, perceptions of physical health, and perceived
functioning and wellbeing. This study reports changes in mental health and well-being over a 12-
week period: pre-post GEARS.

To conduct the evaluation a one-group pre-post study design was employed where the study
participants were surveyed pre-and-post the GEARS program. The study participants were also
followed up at 3 months and 6-months post-GEARS, however, for the purpose of this report these
time points are not included because the follow-up timeframes have not been met (June 2024). There
was no recruitment of a treatment-as-usual control group, or waitlist control group as this study
represents the first stage of a broader evaluation of GEARS.

Study participants were asked to complete an online survey covering a broad array of questions about
demographic characteristics, mental health status, quality of life, and general feedback about the
program. The primary analyses investigated changes (e.g., before and after attending the GEARS 12-
week program) in the following mental health measures: PTSD, psychological distress, depression,
anxiety, anger, difficulties in emotional regulation and resilience. The other primary outcomes
analysed were questions about suicidality (ideations, plans, and attempts), and quality of life.

The primary analyses were conducted on an ‘intent to treat’ cohort – those who completed the pre-GEARS survey, regardless of whether they completed the post-GEARS survey (a more unbiased
measure of treatment efficacy); and a ‘complete’ cohort – those who completed both the pre-GEARS
and post-GEARS surveys. To assess changes (pre-GEARS vs. post-GEARS) in health measures a
linear mixed effects model was employed to control for repeated measures (e.g., the participant).

  • Team/Investigators

    Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff (Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia (MESHA)), Dr Henry Bowen (Military and Emergency Services Health Australia MESHA), Dr Craig Hansen (Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA)), Marie Iannos (Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA)), Dr Jonathan (Jon) Lane (Principal Investigator on the project)

  • Funding Body

    Funded by Military and Emergency Services Australia, a charity of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.

  • Expected Completion Date

    18 August 2023

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