Posts

, ,

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

Why Trojan’s Trek Works

Kendall Bird followed the progress of veterans on Trojan’s Trek as part of her Master’s Degree in Psychology at UniSA. This is what she discovered.
Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 11.37.14 pm

When I started my evaluation of Trojan’s Trek, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. There’s no ‘quick fix’ when you are suffering. Change is often deeper, more meaningful and more complex. My question was this: can outdoor peer support work as a part of therapy for veterans? Trojan’s Trek is a good example. It takes
veterans with mental health stress on a ‘trek’ in the Northern Flinders Ranges where they are exposed to outdoor activities, with support for targeted self-reflection and learning by peers.

Through self-completed questionnaires, a substantial shift and sustained improvement in their mental health and wellbeing was seen, with much lower depression, anxiety and stress and greater life satisfaction and self-efficacy by the end of their time away. These outcomes were maintained even two months after completing the Trek.

Studies in the USA have found that veterans fare better when they have access to peer support. The USA, Canada and the UK all have peer-based services for veterans in some form. Canada, in particular, has integrated the approach with national veterans’ services.

For the men who took part in the 2011 and 2012 Royal Australian Regiment Association (SA) Trojan’s Trek, I saw remarkable results. Through self-completed questionnaires, a substantial shift and sustained improvement in their mental health and wellbeing was seen, with much lower depression, anxiety and stress and greater life satisfaction and self-efficacy by the end of their time away. These outcomes were maintained even two months after completing the Trek.

In general, the men started the Trek with extremely low levels of wellbeing, and left with much higher levels of mental health and satisfaction with life. That’s impressive, I thought. This is a big deal.
Why Trojan’s Trek Works

I was also privileged to read veterans’ diaries from the Trek. It was clear that change happened because they were ‘immersed’ with new-found mates for six days. Sharing the experience of change with others who understood was the key: they could make greater sense of the past and look forward to the future with a greater sense of personal power in their lives.

While peer support can have its pitfalls, when it’s well-managed and structured the approach is promising. There’s something real, something meaningful. If it means one more veteran taking that step to seek more help, or one less suicide, or one more veteran who makes the transition out of the military with less mental pain and panic, then it has to be worthwhile. It’s an ideal approach that can work alongside other
therapies.

As one veteran said: ‘Really, what some of us have done is put into practice a lot of concepts our medical practitioners have been talking to us about.’

Kendall Bird presented her findings at the Australasian Military Medicine Association National Conference held in Adelaide in November. Full research results are due to be published in a Special Edition on Australian Mental Health early in 2014. A link will be available via the RSL-SA & NT website.