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Updated 10:00 AM September 10, 2007




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Intervention relieves stress,
improves retention among Navy recruits

Navy recruits adjusted well to basic training when weekly intervention helped them cope with stress and depression, a new University study indicates.

The recruits developed strong group cohesion, scored high in problem-solving strategies and found ways to deal with anger.

While the study only tracked Navy recruits, the findings may benefit other military branches if they offer recruit intervention, says Reg Williams, the study's lead author and a professor in the School of Nursing.

An intervention program could save about $18.6 million per year on training because fewer recruits would leave the military, he says.

"The results of this study have the potential to decrease attrition, improve recruit performance levels and provide a cost-effective method of enhancing recruit retention," says Williams, who also holds appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Medical School. The findings appear in the current issue of Military Medicine.

Researchers looked at stress and depression in nearly 1,200 Navy recruits participating in a nine-week basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Command in North Chicago. The recruits were placed in two divisions and asked about their interpersonal relationships, coping styles and stress levels. Only one of the two divisions received a cognitive/behavioral intervention and many of the recruits who did get the intervention successfully completed the training, Williams says.

The findings also showed no evidence that recruits who succeeded with the intervention would fail later during the first tour of duty.

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