Research News

Screening does not reduce mental disorders in returning soldiers, study finds

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j861 (Published 17 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j861
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

Screening soldiers for mental disorders after they return from battle is a waste of money, a large randomised controlled trial (RCT) has shown.1

The results of the £2m (€2.34m; $2.5m) study, funded by US taxpayers and carried out in the UK at King’s College Centre for Military Health Research, London, cast doubt on mental health screening programmes for armed service personnel introduced by several countries, including the US.

The study was possible because the UK—unlike the US, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands—has never introduced such a programme. Once screening is introduced, RCTs cannot be conducted, Simon Wessely of King’s College told a briefing at London’s Science Media Centre, because it is then impossible to create a control group by randomly allocating some participants to having no screening.

“Once …

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