Resilience: Understanding the Drivers for Combat Medics

Research Paper Title

Narrative approach in understanding the drivers for resilience of military combat medics.


Qualitative insights may demonstrate how combat medics (CM) deal with stressors and identify how resilience can potentially develop. Yet, qualitative research is scant in comparison to the many quantitative studies of health outcomes associated with military service.


Semi-structured qualitative interviews were used to collect personal narratives of US Army CMs who had previously served in Iraq or Afghanistan.


Thematic analysis revealed three key driving forces for how resilience develops in the context of combat and war:

  • The first was patriotism, which captures loyalty and full commitment to the military and its missions.
  • The second was commitment to their family, reflecting the balance of responsibility to family of origin with the obligation one feels towards their military family.
  • The last driving force was faith, or the drive to reach towards the transcendent to provide a moral compass and develop empathy in the face of difficult situations.


An individual’s commitment to country, military family and faith strengthens their resilience, and this can be used to inform future research efforts as well as current clinical practice.


Russell, C.A., Gibbons, S.W., Abraham, P.A., Howe, E.R., Deuster, P. & Russell, D.W. (2017) Narrative approach in understanding the drivers for resilience of military combat medics. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. pii: jramc-2017-000877. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2017-000877. [Epub ahead of print].


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