Launched following His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex's visit to The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research in March 2019, UNITS (Understanding Needs and Interventions For Treatment of Scarring) is the first study of its kind to assess the psychological impact of an altered appearance as a result of scarring and limb loss sustained during military conflict. We are working with veterans who have been seriously wounded during their deployment to develop tailored support materials to support them and their families adjust to life with a visible difference.
Injuries sustained during military conflict can have a significant impact on appearance. These range from severe scars following a major burn to the loss of limbs from a blast injury. Living with an altered appearance can be physically and psychologically challenging. Whilst some manage well, others struggle and report significant social and psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression and social withdrawal. A 2014 review by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research found that mental health disorders are more common amongst military personnel with physical injuries.
The study is led by the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. Members of the CASEVAC Club, made up of veterans who were casualty evacuated from recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, have assisted with its design.