Promoting Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Military

By Lisa S. Meredith; Cathy D. Sherbourne et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

The operational tempo associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan creates a number of challenges for service members and their families. Service members have been deploying for extended periods on a repeated basis, which, combined with the other consequences of combat, may challenge their and their families’ ability to cope with the stress of deployment. While most military personnel and their families cope well under these difficult circumstances, many will also experience difficulties handling stress at some point.

There are, however, a growing number of programs and strategies provided by the military and civilian sectors to encourage and support psychological resilience to stress for service members and families. Psychological resilience is defined as the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity. Previous research from the field of psychology delineating the factors that foster psychological resilience is available, but we do not know whether and how well the current military resilience programs are addressing these factors in their activities. Further, there is little known about the effectiveness of these programs on developing resilience.

To assist the Department of Defense (DoD) in understanding methodologies that could be useful in promoting resilience among service members and their families, the RAND National Defense Research Institute (RAND NDRI) conducted a focused literature review to identify factors that were supported by the literature (e.g., evidenceinformed) for promoting psychological resilience. The study also included a review of a subset of resilience programs to determine the extent to which they included those evidence-informed factors. This monograph describes the context, approach, and findings from these research activities. It will be of interest to researchers and policymakers in the military community concerned with programming to promote health and prevent negative consequences of war on the nation’s service members and their families.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (OASD/HA) and conducted jointly by RAND Health’s Center for Military Health Policy Research and the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI). The Center for Military Health Policy Research taps RAND expertise in both defense and health policy to conduct research for the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, and nonprofit

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