Gillian Blakely


In this thesis I report an investigation into the psychological, emotional and social impact of British military foreign postings on accompanying spouses. I adopted an ethnographic methodology utilising a four phase mixed method approach consisting of one quantitative and three qualitative components. The thesis was based on research data collected in Phase 1 from a systematic review of British and US military research focusing on the experiences of accompanying spouses on overseas postings. Data from Phase 2 focused on the experiences from 34 British military spouses based in one location in southern Europe and were collected via individual interviews or focus groups. In Phase 3 data were collated via an online forum from 13 other British military spouses, who had experienced postings to alternative worldwide locations, rather than the single one identified in Phase 2. The final phase represented the study’s quantitative component, which further examined the findings from the previous qualitative phases through 136 responses to an online survey. The systematic review highlighted that the impact of a foreign posting could be detrimental to the military spouse’s well-being particularly if support resources were inadequate. Thematic analysis of data from Phases 2 and 3 corroborated the importance of support networks on international postings, but also identified the fundamental influence of individual differences and personal meaning-making of the military spouse. Ultimately, in Phase 4 multiple linear regression analysis determined that a person’s level of tough-mindedness, their self-efficacy and available instrumental support were all significant predictors of the perceived level of support provided by the British military. Overseas relocations are not beneficial for all military spouses. To have a greater understanding of this impact, it is necessary to examine and combine principles in the domains of sociology and psychology. The outcome of this then feeds into adjustment theories and contributes to the field of healthcare practice. Nonetheless, the military are in a constructive position to maximise the effectiveness of support resources alongside health professionals to provide the holistic support that military spouses may need. Specifically, regular informal checks from a healthcare professional or a support worker to assess the well-being of the military spouse could help early identification of any coping problems. This together with cross-cultural awareness training and a greater involvement of the military spouse throughout the relocation process could enhance their foreign posting experience.

Document Type


Publication Date