Led by Imperial College London and Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), the UK’s ADVANCE cohort study, an important twenty-year study into the health of military veterans, recently secured important funding, including a £10 million from the Headley Court Charity. The study investigates the long-term physical and psycho-social outcomes of battlefield casualties from the UK Armed Forces following deployment to Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014. Critically important, this study (among other things) seeks to understand and learn to help service men and women now and into the future—individuals who sacrificed all so that a UK society can progress.
The UK study authors introduce that superior care associated with the UK Defence Medical Services has directly correlated to increased survival rates of severely injured personnel who served the Afghanistan War of 2002-2014. This necessitated a comprehensive, long-term study of the surviving casualties. Hence, the study sponsors report ADVANCE exists to study, prospectively, the incidence of a very wide variety of physical and psycho-social outcomes. The hope is that the study results will facilitate learning for future conflicts and enable appropriate support to be given to injured servicemen and their families, reports Dr. Maija Maskuniitty writing for Imperial College London news. The study Chairman is the Lord Michael Boyce.
A Novel Prospective Study
With funding in place to secure the next ten years of study, the ADVANCE study, a collaboration between the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC), Imperial College London and King’s College London, the study investigates both the physical and psycho-social outcomes of battlefield casualties in the long-term, and represents the first prospective cohort study in this area. Previous studies into war veterans have been done involving military personnel from the Vietnam and World Wars and represented retrospective or cross-sectional design and had inconclusive results, according to the ADVANCE study sponsors.
The study costs over £1 to run per year and is led by Professor Paul Cullinan, of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London. The study aims to support 600 severely injured service personnel by comparing them to a control group of 600 uninjured servicemen for a period of 20 years. The study sponsors and investigators seek to analyze a number of outcomes from cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and mental health to social outcomes.
Study recruitment is always one of the biggest tasks—if not the biggest one—for a study. By the end of January 2020, the ADVANCE study is fewer than 100 participants away from meeting its target of 1,200 participants. The team will be incredibly busy over the next month’s recruiting the last study participants. Reaching 1,200 participants meets a huge milestone for all involved. At stake is the health of the UK’s soldiers—those who sacrificed all so that the many in UK society can live in a comfortable, social democratic system.
The ADVANCE study is funded by a direct LIBOR grant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UK Ministry of Defense, and Help for Heroes. In addition to the £10 million from the Headley Court Charity (DMRC), the study team received a special grant of £1 million from the Nuffield Trust for the Forces of the Crown (marking the Trust’s 80th anniversary) and a five year commitment from Blesma, the Limbless Veterans of £250,000. Thanks to the contributions from these prominent organizations, the study will be secure for the next ten years and build on the existing funding from the Ministry of Defence, LIBRO fines and Help for Heroes, which enabled the setup of the study and the recruitment of the baseline cohort.
Jonathan Grave, an ex-UK Defence serviceman, quoted for Imperial College London news site, saying, “I have a genuine interest in health and research and really believe the study has good intentions. And more importantly, I wanted to contribute towards ADVANCE and help research that will support long-term care outcomes for serving personnel and veterans. It is vital for ADVANCE to continue researching the long-term health outcomes of battlefield casualties from 2003-2014. ADVANCE will benefit current and future serving personnel and veterans—it’s just what we need.”
Professor Paul Cullinan, of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London
Call to Action: Interested in lessons learned from this study for U.S. or other military studies? Why not contact ADVANCE and connect?