Navigation Links
Public support can influence soldiers' mental health: Study

Can events like Red Fridays, Tickets for Troops and the yellow ribbon campaign reduce the chances of Canadian soldiers experiencing combat-related stress disorders? The authors of a new study from the University of Alberta think so.

David Webber, a PhD student in the U of A's Department of Psychology, and his supervisor Jeff Schimel recently published a paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, positing that the level of public support for a war could influence the level of mental distress combatants feel when they arrive home, potentially leading to a heightened risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Webber says the results send a message that policy-makers should choose their battles wisely.

Extermination and peer acceptance as research paradigm

Webber and colleagues designed two studies in which participants were asked to exterminate a number of woodlice using a modified coffee grinder. In one study, they would have to prep another participant, an actor who feigned either interest or disgust at the notion of the task. In the second study, participants were asked to record in a logbook who had actively participated or who had refused to kill the bugs. In both cases, the participants indicated increased levels of guilt and distress when they felt their participation was socially invalidated.

"We did have some participants who showed some clear distress not only when going through the initial act of killing, but also after finding that somebody else had refused to do it," said Webber. "There were some clear physical signs that people were uncomfortable after they found out it was invalidated by other people."

Vietnam versus the war on terror

Webber's research points to examples of wars or military actions that were perceived to be popular or unpopular with society, notably the American involvement in the Vietnam War compared with the response to the 9-11 attacks. He says that when there is no clear or rational reason for a country to go to war, the resulting protests over military involvement can act as a catalyst in the minds of returning soldiers and veterans over their role in an action their country sees as unjust or even immoral. Though the act of taking another life in combat can be in some ways rationalized as necessary for the good of one's country, when that country's citizens openly manifest their rejection of the war, the soldiers' perception that their actions were out of line with social reality, and thus immoral, may become detrimental to their mental health.

"Soldiers, while they're in the military, may believe that killing is the right thing to do. But maybe when they return home and see the culture and the country is not as supportive as they thought it once was, it makes it more distressing," he says.

Combatants risk more than lives

Webber says leaders need to act wisely and judiciously when deciding to go to war with other countries. Although soldiers accept the inherent risks involved with their careers, there is no training given that will help them face the backlash of public opinion against their role in the government's choice to do battle. Even though the country may support the soldiers, and may sign petitions and stage demonstrations with the intent of bringing them back home safely, Webber says being caught between duty and public opinion can be a painful experience.

Webber acknowledges that there is not necessarily an ideal prescription for when to go to war, but he says for the sake of the troops' mental health, signing that declaration needs to be done with the utmost thought and care.

"When decisions are made to go to war, they should be based less on fear and insecurity and more in hard realities, such as if the country has been attacked," said Webber. "If the decisions are undertaken with good reason, with legitimate evidence behind them, protests should be less likely and invalidation should be less of a problem."


Contact: Jamie Hanlon
University of Alberta

Related medicine news :

1. U.S. Spends Too Little on Public Health Initiatives: Report
2. Physicians call for improvements to countrys public health system to protect US residents
3. Publication Bias Casts Doubt on Value of Antidepressants for Autism
4. Comprehensive report documents impact of urologic diseases on American public
5. Surgeon General receives 2012 Distinguished Public Service Award from internal medicine physicians
6. The Tennessee Car Accident Lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates Alert Public of CDC Survey Revealing Majority of High School Seniors Admitting to Texting Behind Wheel
7. As New Premature Ejaculation Drugs Get Closer To The Public Market, Announces A Drug-Free Solution
8. Higher levels of public reimbursement positively influence national birth rates and reduce unmet needs in subfertile populations
9. Oxford University Press launches Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health
10. $53 million grant will help health researchers develop new therapies -- with the publics help
11. Tobacco use more prevalent among African-American adolescents living in public housing communities
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... A revolution is ... emergency ambulance transport experience for the millions of people who require these medical ... the taxi industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has put forth ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... Quality metrics are ... in many ways they remain in the eye of the beholder, according to experts ... publication of The American Journal of Managed Care. For the full issue, click ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios ... X. , "Film editors can give their videos a whole new perspective by using ... - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal ... personalized through a fitness app. The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems ... offer a one size fits all type program , They don’t eliminate all ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at the ... several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and patient ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Consumers have taken a more active ... more emphasis on patient outcomes. ... the pharmaceutical industry have evolved beyond just providing ... are focusing on becoming more patient-oriented across their ... services that improve health. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Global Blood ... biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment ... today announced the closing of its previously announced ... stock, at the public offering price of $18.75 ... offering were offered by GBT. GBT estimates net ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 ... announced the addition of the " Global Markets ... This report focuses ... an updated review, including its applications in various applications. ... market, which includes three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: