Military Separation: Effects and Mitigating Factors. (A mixed methods study: does separation relate to retention? how does acceptance of separation develop?)

Prof Doc Thesis

Donnelly, Joan 2011. Military Separation: Effects and Mitigating Factors. (A mixed methods study: does separation relate to retention? how does acceptance of separation develop?). Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsDonnelly, Joan
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Increasing operational commitments mean that military personnel are often
separated from their family. Two main concerns arise: what is the impact on
the serving person and family? Does increased time away from home affect
retention in the Services? A review of relevant literature shows that much of
the research to date has treated these as separate outcomes. Several
possible research designs are considered. A pragmatist position, asserting
that the research question is of primary importance in the choice of methods,
is adopted. The design used is a sequential (two phase) explanatory design:
quantitative followed by qualitative. A survey was conducted, with 2050
responses. Three hypotheses were tested using Analysis of Covariance. First,
that separated service is associated with retention. This is supported, and a U
shaped relationship is found, with both very high and low separation
associated with decreased likelihood of retention. Second, some demographic
groups tolerate less separation than others, before leaving. This is supported,
(e.g. single personnel tolerate more separation than married). Third, increased
separation from family has social impacts that in turn affect retention. This too
is supported. Findings are discussed in terms of whether they fit with previous
research, and whether theoretical perspectives can help to interpret the
findings. A number of questions followed that are best addressed using
qualitative research: How do people develop an understanding that
"separation is part of the job"? And does this idea change and develop
through their career? These are explored using Grounded Theory. Data
collection from a total of six participants is described. Semi-structured
interviews were designed to encourage interviewees to talk about experiences of separation from the point at which they joined the military, to the point at
which they left. Four were interviewed in depth, with interviews transcribed.
Line-by-line coding was followed by application of the constant comparison
method. An initial model was drafted, and a further two interviewees were
included to test fit and relevance. A Grounded Theory of separation is stated.
Separated service is seen as part of the job for many military personnel.
Those who state that they accept separation appear to understand what it
means to be separated differently at different times, and so acceptance and
understanding differ. Two core themes are: how understanding develops and
changes, and what influences acceptance of separation. The data suggest a
strong temporal aspect to understanding, with understanding developing
alongside usual through-life changes. Acceptance of separation may be
facilitated by the perception of benefits to the serving person, and may be
tempered by features of the separation, and features of the serving person
and family. Individuals' self-image may be affected by how they have dealt
with separation in the past.

Publication dates
PrintMar 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2014
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