Posts

, ,

Programme Evaluation shows success of TT

Since the Trojan’s Trek program was commenced in SA in 2009 and in QLD in 2015, each participant attending is asked to complete four standard psycho-social instruments on three occasions.  This data is later independently analysed to measure outcomes by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation in QLD for the QLD attenders, and by Flinders University staff in SA for those attenders. 

The reason for this is simply to ensure that the program remains relevant and beneficial to the participants.  Very few peer support programs are subject to the same scrutiny.  Naturally the board and the staff are also interested in the evaluations as it provides a scientific method to gauge success.  To date the results over 10 years have set new bench-marks for peer outdoor support.  Following is a selection from the data analysis completed in SA for the 2018 trek.

“There was marked improvement in 100% of participants between Day 1 and Day 6 on their total DASS21 scores (reduction in scores for depression, anxiety and stress). All 11 participants who responded at the 2-3 month follow up continued to show improvement over their pre-test/day 1 scores.”

Note: The DASS 21 scores are a significant measure of individual risk as depression (one of the elements measured) is almost always present in suicide or attempts.

Change in outcome areas – pre Day 1/post: Day 6
 
Key:      Y = Improvement          N = Decline       N minor = one difference N/Ch = No change    N/Ch P = No change; healthy/positive initial scores            N/A or blank  = Not applicable/No answer
, ,

2016 QLD Trojan’s Trek – Men Outcome Data Report

There were eleven participates in the 2016 QLD Men’s Trojan’s Trek. For the purpose of this report, their questionnaire responses on four measures (Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale -DASS21, General Self- Efficacy Scale, Life Satisfaction Scale and the Positive and Negative Interactions Scale, See Table 1) were scored and analysed to measure quantitative change in mental health and wellbeing indicators from Day 1 and Day 6.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.50.48 am

All of the participants (100%) showed a positive change between Day 1 and Day 6 on their total DASS21 scores (reduction in scores for depression, anxiety and stress). All but one participant showed an increase in self-efficacy.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.54.36 am
Overall life satisfaction improved for all participants, and all showed an increase in satisfaction with mental health and sleep. Nine of the eleven participants (82%) showed an increase in satisfaction with feeling part of the community; the other three participants’ results remained stable. Ten of the eleven participants showed an increase in perception of positive interactions with friends and family, and increase in positive perception of spouse relationships was seen for all participants in a relationship. Satisfaction with relationships with children improved for seven of the eleven participants, while two remained stable. Results for each measure are outlined below in greater detail.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.53.52 am

Of note, five participants showed clinically significant reduction in all areas measured: stress, anxiety and depression severity. A sixth person showed significant reduction in stress severity, and another showed reduction in depression to clinical levels and another two participants showed significant reductions in both depression and stress, as highlighted in Table 2.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.56.15 am

On average, participant scores changed from severe anxiety, stress and depression on Day 1, to normal level anxiety, stress and depression scores by Day 6. At Day 1 scores were well above the average for the general population and by Day 6 became well below the average, see Table 3.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.56.55 am

Self-efficacy
As outlined in Figure 2, ten participants showed an increase in their self-efficacy scores and one participants’ scores remained stable. The average self-efficacy score was similar to that of the general population at Day 1, and above the general population at Day 6, see Table 4.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.57.46 am

Life Satisfaction
Overall satisfaction with life increased from Day 1 to Day 6 for all participants, and satisfaction increased in all areas measured; see Table 5. Participants’ life satisfaction in all areas was below that of the general population at Day 1, and above that of the general population at Day 6. Selected results for life satisfaction are shown in Figure 3; ten participants experienced an increase in overall life satisfaction between Day 1 and Day 6, nine participants showed an increase in satisfaction with mental health, and ten showed an increase in feeling part of the community and increased satisfaction with sleep.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.57.46 am

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.58.59 am

Relationships
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.59.41 am

On average, perception of positive interactions with friends, family and spouses increased between Day 1 and Day 6. This scale (the Positive and Negative Interactions Scale) measures participants’ perception of how well they feel their relationships are going. Taking results from the Life Satisfaction Questionnaires, all participants who had a spouse indicated improvement with their satisfaction with their relationship except for one participant whose scores remained high and stable. Seven participants showed improvement in satisfaction with their relationship with their children, with two participant’s scores remaining stable and two others showing a slight score reduction, see Figure 4.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 12.00.07 pm

References
DASS21: Lovibond, S. & Lovibond, P. (2004). Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (2nd Ed). University of New South Wales: Sydney.
Positive and Negative Interactions Scale: Schuster T. L., Kessler, R.C., & Aseltine, R. H. Jr (1990). Supportive interactions, negative interactions and depressed mood. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 423-438.
Self-Efficacy Scale: Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized Self-Efficacy scale. In J. Weinman, S. Wright, & M. Johnston. Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs. 35- 37. Windsor, England: NFER-NELSON.
Life Satisfaction Scale information: Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (2010, February). Evaluation of Trojan’s Trek: Final report. Retrieved from http://www.trojanstrek.com/wp- content/uploads/2011/04/Trojans-Trek-Final-Report-2010.pdf
Note: See Participant Snapshot for an overview of where areas of change were for each participant.

Data analysis and report completed by Kendall Bird for Trojan’s Trek

,

Feedback from Trojan’s Trek, 2014.

The following qualitative comments are taken at random from participants journals and correspondence. Thanks to everyone for allowing us to post these.

Trojan’s Trek was up there with one of the most, if not the most enlightening experience I have had as a Vietnam veteran trying to come home since I returned from Vietnam over 40 years ago. ….” Moose, I say you can teach some old dogs new tricks”  Honk honk!! 2014 trekker

“It was our absolute pleasure to lend you and the Trek our xxxxxxxxx (the best Daddy & Husband in the whole wide world) although we did miss him very much we knew he would be nothing short of amazing!! He was chuffed to be asked to go on the Trek as staff this year and had no hesitation at all accepting the offer as he and I both know if it wasn’t for TT we wouldn’t be the happiest little family that we are today. So THANK YOU to you and Moose for giving xxxxxxxxx the opportunity to ever go on the Trek in the first place, to gain the tools and change his mindset to become one of the most amazing and positive people I know – partner of 2014 participant.

When I sit back and think poor me, I know now to stop and engage some common sense, I am not alone! Being in this environment has taught me humility and respect.

Wow! Where to start? I suppose the beginning but in the journey, where is the beginning? I am surprised just how quickly and unplanned the panic sets in. I was apprehensive about doing a journal but I think, albeit slowly I am finding the process helpful.

I would seriously consider coming back as a mentor as well as trying to influence some digger mates to consider coming on 2014. I find just being in the middle of the wilderness with like-minded blokes to be very grounding, peaceful relaxing.

Yesterday here was only the first day and already I feel like I have known some of the blokes here for a while.

Being here is really reinforcing where I am at, where I want to be and who I want to be. I sincerely hope to one day spend my time being a part of this and sharing my knowledge …It makes me fell alive again.

I have gotten a lot out of this journey, met some amazing blokes who I will be mates with for life. Before the trek I could not even sleep, just toss and turn with thoughts what have I gotten into, how did my life get so f…d up. Should I just bail and go the lone wolf and stop inflicting my family with this CURSE.

I was told the drive was 3 hours by Dave which probably helped me get there. So it was six but what the f..k you’re here anyway go for the ride, that’s three hours less counselling.

I was made feel at home, I was not judged(?) The first day’s talks were inspirational. Poxy got my head going, poke here poke there, amazing shit activated previous knowledge, synapses are firing

I can help others by my example just by turning up, that is the start of a new improved life. I will now be more interested in my family instead of interesting. Got to open up to Dogs a little more about relationships with family and girlfriend.

It was really good having Craig and Mick on the trek because they really understand as they have been there as well.

“A penny for our thoughts” and I got quite choked up because I was upset that the time was coming when I was going to have to say goodbye to these amazing blokes.

They have been so supportive and actually understand what I am going through I can actually talk to blokes who I can open up to and trust, this stuff is just priceless.

I think it has already made such a big impact on my life and I’m so grateful to be able to call every one of these blokes my mate, both trekkers and staff

I feel like I belong, like somehow I am meant to be here, this is my moment, my time. My choice to fix me. Being on this program and surrounded by others who are in similar boot, I hope to gain the tools or at least begin to.

If I wasn’t here, I know I would not live to see Xmas.

These blokes call themselves farmers, over the past 3 days they have only planted the seeds but the fu…rs have started to germinate.

..it’s all those jars filled with pent-up emotions/feelings/experiences have all been smashed …it is a relief. I told the boys my story. The support feedback I’ve received has been incredible. I was finally free of my demons?

Then a mate from the army said “hay have you seen Trojans Trek, you’re a vet you should go”, my reply was “nah mate I have no issues”. I asked him when it was that was October 2011, and something must have been saying do it as I filled out a leave application for September 2012. I found myself as the time was getting closer becoming more and more excited. I am happy to say that I don’t think I am the same person anymore.

Recently my wife was diagnosed with Bowel cancer, and during the initial days when clouds formed, I found myself calm. For the last 7 weeks now we have faced this new challenge with drive and positivity that I don’t think I would have had if I had not gone through the Trojans program.

Talked at length with Andrew about my time in Somalia and found myself talking about stuff that I usually find uncomfortable. I am finding answers to why I think I am what I am. Dogs makes a lot of sense and I am mainly here because I see myself failing as a father at home.

Webster’s defines self-realisation as:“The fulfilment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality.”

“The above I believe encapsulates the overall intent of Trojans Trek (TT). As a participant I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to be at one with myself in order to commence addressing my problems. As a result of my service I had indeed slowly adopted a victim mentality, and was so wrapped up within my own self doubt, pity, fear and anger that I had effectively shut myself off from most around me. I was well aware that I had issues and problems that needed addressing, but now with hindsight I was waiting for help.

TT made me realise that the person who could provide me with the most help was myself. Assistance and support was (and still is) available, but no progress would be made until I came to the realisation that I firstly needed to understand why I feel like I do, and that the selfish methods I was utilising to deal with those feelings were not in my or my families best interests both from a physical and psychological perspective. I felt alone amongst those who love and support me. This situation was ludicrous.

I am of the opinion that the remote location and the fact that all involved were returned servicemen contributed significantly to the effectiveness of TT. I felt that I could talk to anyone around me without being judged, pitied or provided no more than ‘lip service’. I understand now how ridiculous it was that I felt I could not do this with those at home who love and support me, but the week away with veterans in the same situation has provided me with that insight. It also allowed me to ‘dry out’ which in turn provided me with the clear head required to rationally address my thoughts and feelings. The calm surroundings far away and totally removed from the pressures that accompany everyday life assisted in this process immensely.

The TT program is in my opinion a very effective tool in shifting perspective and allowing returned servicemen to ‘re-boot’ their head and commence the path to becoming well again. I am now of the opinion that closed room counselling sessions are nowhere near as effective as the approach adopted by those involved in TT. For that they are to be congratulated. As a result of my experience I fully intend to become involved in any future TT as I feel that I would gain great satisfaction from assisting those who are travelling the same path that I am, as well as providing me with a reminder that my past lifestyle and attitude is no more than self destructing.

…..I also wanted to say thank you again for the week and all the mentoring and advice you gave me. Matt and I sat down over the weekend and talked at length about the trek and we both came to the conclusion that we had both learnt so much and I know now that am in a better place and it will keep on improving. My parents spent the weekend with us and I took on board everything you said about my relationship with my dad. I showed him the nail trick and listen to all his stories about his D Coy 4RAR reunion. I was just happy to have him and mum down here. When they left on Monday I put my arms around him, gave him a big hug and told him I loved him. Something I have never ever done, He was a bit taken back but I know we both aren’t use to it. Anyway thanks again, you were a real inspiration and I know a lot of other younger blokes would get so much out of the experience of the last week.

If the world had more men like those I listened to this week, it would be vastly different. Each man I have listened to has got great strength not only in their minds, but in what they say. This trek for me wasn’t about finding out what my problem is! It’s about finding out some ways to deal with it. The men on the course have been legends. With some it’s been evident from the first time I met them, others it’s taken me ‘til now to see. Time with everyone has helped me to understand a legend isn’t something in a book or a movie, it’s us. This is one experience I will never forget and will pass on to those I know. Life is too short to be a grumpy, uninteresting old man. Thank you everyone for this week long journey.

He really did get a lot out of going and I’ve already noticed a change – Partner of 2014 participant.

Overall I thought the course was absolutely brilliant. There were no expectations before the course, however it has been one of the best things I have done in a long time.

In response to Trojans trek it was invaluable to be with the other veteran’s despite the different campains/ conflicts we were all involved with. As we share a common bond of varying level of ptsd, and the inability to discuss many of our experiences with any other than each other due to content, and fear of judgment (shit that is so far out that could not possibly happen).

Many times with different participant’s the comment was simply shit I haven’t laughed this much in a long time, how bloody true is this very fact.

I simply make this plea; there was very little support for the Vietnam vet’s upon their return please do not make the same mistake with us and those whom are to return in the future.

The simple fact is the true benefit is being away from everything (Tele news, the papers, the radio, and to some degree society) and given the opportunity to think reassess and absorb words of wisdom from others who experienced the issues some time before us. So please keep the program going and thank you to those who took time out to help us.

Went for a walk with the boys and had to stop because I needed time out. The boys were concerned but realised I needed time out. Was memories good and bad from my childhood to the present came rushing out at me in no particular order while. I was looking at a small running stream. Did a calming routine that I have been taught here and was able to focus. Today I am in myself and at peace.

Something has come together for me today. Feeling great this morning, did not wake or stir last night. At home I regularly use sleeping tablets to help me sleep. I am really looking forward to getting home tomorrow, not because I am not enjoying myself but because I think the penny has finally dropped. I feel like a kid who has fallen off his bike and is sitting in the dirt feeling sorry for myself waiting for someone to come and help me. But now I feel I have been helped off the ground and dusted off. I am not back on the bike- that’s up for me to do myself but I have the tools ….

I came to the trek with blinkers (sic) on, both about my life and the trek. I believe I will leave minus the blinkers, in a better state than I arrived and with a better understanding of who I am, what I have done and what I can do from here on in.

The activity has been beneficial for myself and I believe that I will be able to use much of the advice given.

There is now a good relationship with my husband but how many years of counselling, and at what cost to us and financially for the govt. How many couples haven’t made it, how many young people, sons and daughters of veterans found other ways to cope because the help the veterans were receiving was way too slow to save the family? What I saw in Trojan’s Trek was the opportunity for the older veterans to get alongside the younger veterans and speak truth and life to them – Partner of 2014, participant.

I have found since returning from Trojan’s Trek that I have totally different outlook on life and now I deal with things that in the past would have had me” losing it”. I deal with negative things a lot better. My wife has commented on the change in me since I came back. I have done a number of courses for PTSD, but I have found that TROJAN’S TREK has been the best and most beneficial by far!! Thanks Moose and all the staff.

Trojans Trek was an extremely mentally fatiguing time for me; it took me a few days of rest when I got home to process what I had been through, even though I got and still have some of my best sleep out in the bush in swags. To this day even though some of my worst memories from being wounded in Afghanistan one of the best is sleeping in swags, so what better place and environment I think to take veterans than out in the bush.  2014 trekker