Blind veterans wellbeing research
Measuring the wellbeing of members of Blind Veterans UK
Working in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University’s Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research (VFI), Boston University School of Medicine, and Veteran Affairs Boston Centre, this pilot study was the first to use the Wellbeing Inventory (WBI) to explore holistic wellbeing in British blind veterans. This preliminary investigation of wellbeing suggests that our members generally function well and are satisfied across a range of different areas of life.
When we talk about wellbeing, we talk about the extent to which a person feels healthy, happy, and comfortable. Our satisfaction, and how well we are doing in different areas of our life, all impact on our overall wellbeing.
Existing research shows that visual impairment and being a veteran can affect various aspects of a person’s life. It’s vital that we understand the wellbeing of blind veterans in order to ensure that the support provided meets their needs.
What did we do?
Between November 2019 and March 2020, the Blind Veterans UK Social & Welfare research team and collaborators ran a pilot study using a survey originally developed with US veterans to assess wellbeing. The pilot was run to test the feasibility of the survey for use with British blind veterans, and to get a preliminary overview of wellbeing among our members.
Blind veterans completed the survey online, over the phone, or face-to-face with a member of the Social & Welfare research team. The survey, called the Wellbeing Inventory (WBI), assesses:
- Status (objective life circumstances such as whether a person is employed or married)
- Functioning (how well they are doing)
- Satisfaction (a subjective assessment of how well things are going)
These are assessed in four key areas of life:
- Vocation (work/education)
- Social relationships (intimate relationships, parenting and wider social relationships).
The survey is useful in enabling the identification of areas of strength and possible vulnerability in respondents’ lives.
What did we find?
The preliminary findings suggest that the blind veterans who took part in this pilot study generally functioned well and were satisfied across most areas of their life. Satisfaction with their relationships with spouses or partners, and functioning and satisfaction with volunteering roles among those who volunteered, were identified as areas of strength.
Areas of possible vulnerability were financial functioning and satisfaction with their health. This may reflect the large number of veterans who reported having ongoing health conditions in addition to their visual impairment. Encouragingly, the majority reported doing their best to look after their health by regularly engaging in health-promoting behaviours such as eating a healthy diet, and largely avoiding risky health behaviours such as excessive drinking or smoking.
- 56% were in a relationship with a partner or spouse
- 76% functioned well in their intimate relationship
- 91% were satisfied with their intimate relationship
- 85% had regular contact with friends/family and their community
- 64% functioned well in their social network
- 85% were satisfied with their social network
Select infographic to enlarge
The findings from this pilot study provide a preliminary overview of wellbeing among a small sample of blind veterans. Results of the study are available to Blind Veterans UK staff, blind veterans, and the public through online publication.
The Social & Welfare research team is building on the learnings from this pilot study and the feedback received from our participants to explore wellbeing within the wider blind veteran and visually impaired communities.
The aim of our wellbeing research is to ensure that the support provided to blind veterans addresses their wellbeing needs.