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The value of Battle Back

Battle Back case study

Evaluation of the immediate impact of courses at the Battle Back Centre, Lilleshall for military Wounded, Injured and Sick personnel

Case study summary

Extensive efforts are made to support the recovery of service personnel. However, there is a need to explore alternative approaches to recovery outside conventional settings such as hospitals or rehabilitation centres, or other clinical settings. An alternative area which is attracting attention is sport and adventurous activities. Although there are a number of initiatives across the world that use sport to aid the recovery of service personnel, there is little empirical evidence which documents programme outcomes. Therefore, the present study explores the immediate benefits of participation in a five-day multi-activity course for WIS personnel.

Case study approach

A multi-method approach has been used since course inception in order to form a comprehensive understanding of the meaning, value and effects of participation on personnel. The immediate impact of course participation on psychological wellbeing and positive mental health has been measured through questionnaires completed by personnel on arrival and at course completion. The personal experiences of those attending the course have been explored in detail using in-depth narrative interviews. Intensive participant observations have also been conducted.

Case study impact

The ongoing findings highlight the positive short-term role of adapted sport and adventurous training activities in the recovery of WIS personnel. Findings of the quantitative component identified a large and statistically significant increase in participants’ positive mental health and the need for autonomy, competence and relatedness by the end of the course. Findings from the qualitative component of the course evaluation have been published in four international peer-review journals. This work shows that involvement in the course stimulated a balance of present-and future-oriented psychosocial outcomes. Notably, participants recreated aspects of themselves that had been lost through injury/trauma and now planned to move forward with their new horizons of possibility and renewed confidence. Further, participants’ accounts of their lives suggested a ‘narrative transformation’ towards a more positive identity and sense of self through participation in the course.

Battle Back quote

Battle Back publications

Four articles have been published in international peer-reviewed journals: 

Carless, D., Peacock, S., McKenna, J. & Cooke, C. (2013). Psychosocial outcomes of an inclusive adapted sport and adventurous training course for military personnel. Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(24), 2081-2088. 

Carless, D. (2014). Narrative transformation among military personnel on an adventurous training and sport course. Qualitative Health Research, 24(10), 1440-1450. 

Carless, D., Sparkes, A., Douglas, K., & Cooke, C. (2014). Disability, inclusive adventurous training and adapted sport: Two soldiers’ stories of involvement. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15(1), 124-131.

  Douglas, K. & Carless, D. (2015). Finding a counter story at an inclusive, adapted sport and adventurous training course for injured, sick and wounded soldiers: Drawn in-drawn out. Qualitative Inquiry, iFirst.