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Partners living vicariously with PTSD: Military and Emergency First Responders

Examining the experiences of being an intimate partner of an Australian veteran or first responder with post-traumatic stress.

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This study examined the multidimensional nature of experiences of being an intimate partner of an Australian veteran or emergency service first responder (ESFR) with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Using a qualitative phenomenological approach, inductive thematic analysis was undertaken on data collected in 2017–2018 through individual interviews with a purposive sample of 22 partners of veterans, paramedics, fire and police officers living in Australia. Analysis revealed that the key concern of the participants was to protect their family unit and the intimate relationship, highlighting the ways in which they adapted, managed and coped with the changes that PTSD brought to the relationship. However, lack of understanding by healthcare providers, government, military and emergency service organizations of their daily lives, and of the strength of commitment to their relationship, resulted in a sense of invisibility and was revealed as the key barrier to the support they crave. The findings underscore the importance of recognizing the significance of the intimate relationship in trauma recovery and of responding to the support needs of the intimate partner.

  • Team/Investigators

    Professor Sharon Lawn (Flinders University), Dr Elaine Waddell (Flinders University), Dr Louise Roberts (Flinders University), Dr Julie Henderson (Flinders University), Dr Anthony Venning (Flinders University), Ms Paula Redpath (Flinders University)

  • Funding Body

    MESHA (formerly The Road Home)

  • Year Commenced

    July 2017

  • Expected Completion Date

    February 2018

  • Contribution

    Funder and Recruitment Support

  • MeSH Terms

    families, partners, carers, vicarious PTSD

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