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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31824e676b
Original Articles

The Experiences of Security Industry Contractors Working in Iraq: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Messenger, Katy DClinPsy; Farquharson, Lorna DClinPsy; Stallworthy, Pippa DClinPsy; Cawkill, Paul MSc; Greenberg, Neil MD

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Abstract

Objective: To explore the occupational experiences of private security contractors working in a war zone and how it impacts on their mental health.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with seven contractors employed by a large UK-based private security company. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the interview transcripts. Participants also completed the 12-item General Health Questionnaire and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist.

Results: Four overarching themes emerged: the appeal of the job; vulnerability; keep going; and seeking help for stress in the workplace. No clinically significant levels of distress were reported.

Conclusions: Contractors are frequently exposed to stressors known to increase risk of psychiatric difficulty in military personnel. A number of potential protective factors were identified. Only a minority of participants were open to seeking help for mental health difficulties.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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