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Post-9/11 veterans and their partners improve mental health outcomes with a self-directed mobile and web-based wellness training program: A randomized controlled trial

APA Citation:

Kahn, J. R., Collinge, W., & Soltysik, R. (2016). Post-9/11 Veterans and their partners improve mental health outcomes with a self-directed mobile and web-based wellness training program: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(9), e255. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.5800

Abstract Created by REACH:

The experience of deployment is often associated with mental, physical, and relationship challenges for Veterans. Veterans’ and their partners’ mental health and pain levels were compared before and after a wellness training program called Mission Reconnect, which integrated stress-release strategies and couples’ massages. Results suggested that the program improved Veterans’ and partners’ well-being.


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)


Kahn, Janet R., Collinge, William, Soltysik, Robert


Background Veterans with history of deployment in the Global War on Terror face significant and ongoing challenges with high prevalences of adverse psychological, physical, spiritual, and family impacts. Together, these challenges contribute to an emerging public health crisis likely to extend well into the future. Innovative approaches are needed that reach veterans and their family members with strategies they can employ over time in their daily lives to promote improved adjustment and well-being. Objective The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of use of a Web-based, self-directed program of instruction in mind- and body-based wellness skills to be employed by Global War on Terror veterans and their significant relationship partners on mental health and wellness outcomes associated with postdeployment readjustment. Methods We recruited 160 veteran-partner dyads in 4 regions of the United States (San Diego, CA; Dallas, TX; Fayetteville, NC; and New York, NY) through publicity by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to its membership. Dyads were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 study arms: Mission Reconnect (MR) program alone, MR plus the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) for Strong Bonds weekend program for military couples, PREP alone, and waitlist control. We administered a battery of standardized and investigator-generated instruments assessing mental health outcomes at baseline, 8 weeks, and 16 weeks. Dyads in the MR arms were provided Web-based and mobile app video and audio instruction in a set of mindfulness-related stress reduction and contemplative practices, as well as partner massage for reciprocal use. All participants provided weekly reports on frequency and duration of self-care practices for the first 8 weeks, and at 16 weeks. Results During the first 8-week reporting period, veterans and partners assigned to MR arms used some aspect of the program a mean of 20 times per week, totaling nearly 2.5 hours per week, with only modest declines in use at 16 weeks. Significant improvements were seen at 8 and 16 weeks in measures of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, sleep quality, perceived stress, resilience, self-compassion, and pain for participants assigned to MR arms. In addition, significant reductions in self-reported levels of pain, tension, irritability, anxiety, and depression were associated with use of partner massage. Conclusions Both veterans and partners were able to learn and make sustained use of a range of wellness practices taught in the MR program. Home-based, self-directed interventions may be of particular service to veterans who are distant from, averse to, or prohibited by schedule from using professional services. Leveraging the partner relationship may enhance sustained use of self-directed interventions for this population. Use of the MR program appears to be an accessible, low-cost approach that supports well-being and reduces multiple symptoms among post-9/11 veterans and their partners.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, United States, JRK


veteran, ptsd, moral injury, mind-body therapies, mindfulness, patient-centered care, compassion, web-based program, reintegration

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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