Emerging Data from Fort Sill Research
Well, after three months of hounding, nagging, cajoling and ordering newly returned soldiers at Fort Sill to listen to their guided imagery and collecting their survey data at four different points along the way, (from early August through early November,) we were finally able to have our first meeting with Dr. Edgardo Padin (who is actually Chief of Psychology at the Louis B Stokes V.A.M.C. in Cleveland, generously volunteering his time to this effort) and his numbers-crunching wunderkind, Dr. Kevin Young, to go over the first round of data analysis.
I’m happy to report that we do indeed have some useable findings here, which will be helpful to the Army, to our returning soldiers and to subsequent research efforts.
We learned a lot. We were trying something new – offering a guided imagery resource, not through regular mental health channels, but through the command side, to see if there would be stronger adoption rates that way.
We were unfamiliar with the system and the system was unfamiliar with us, so we ran into glitches here and there, in spite of tremendous help and support from the very top down. We lost a lot of soldiers to re-assignment, right off the bat; and we had others wandering into the study at random points after it had begun. A relatively small number had invalid responses and their surveys had to be thrown out altogether. All of them were getting the Army’s Resiliency Training as well. So my expectations had dropped for what we could find by way of useable results from using guided imagery, and I was steeled for hearing that the whole thing was a wash.
But of the people who initially reported having difficulties with thoughts or feelings that bothered them and affected their behavior and relationships, the guided imagery was a help, providing an apparent protective effect over the general decline that almost all the soldiers experienced in the first three months of being back. They all got more symptomatic and they all lost some coping behavior. It’s just that the controls really bottomed out while the guided imagery people pretty much maintained themselves, with only a slightly downward tilt.
The instrument we used – Dr. Padin’s Mastery Status Instrument or MSI – measures both coping and symptoms – and Coping minus Symptoms equals a Mastery Score. The instrument is elegant and simple, and it performed very well here, as it has in other trials, showing great internal consistency. That’s all I can say for now. We have a lot more analysis and tweaking to do and there will be articles forthcoming. The numbers aren’t as big as we would have liked, but we still have impressive effect sizes and significant results. To be continued!!
And just to give you a "heads up", we'll be switching our e-news delivery to a different system next week, so expect a brand new look and probably a different delivery schedule, too - at least until we work the kinks out.
And in the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy your friends and family, your delicious food, your football games, your tryptophan-induced trance state and your gratitude for what is. For those of you having a challenging time of it this year, all of us here at HJ wish you way better, easier, happier times ahead.