Update: Computer-based training trial for veteran wellbeing

Open Arms has temporarily suspended the Stepping Out Attention Reset (SOAR) trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect to start recruitment again in September 2020 and will extend the trial by six months.

The SOAR Trial tests whether attention-training tasks can help reduce or prevent mental health problems in veterans.

Participants complete a computer-based training program focused on re-balancing attention to threat cues.

Military training teaches you to pay close attention to your environment and the things that could be a potential threat — in many military settings this training is life-saving. Once you leave the military, if your attention is not re-balanced to suit a civilian setting, adjustment issues or mental health problems may develop. A biased attention towards threat, is thought to increase the risk of PTSD and anxiety disorders.

The trial program was announced by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Darren Chester in 2019.

"The Stepping Out: Attention Reset (SOAR) trial is designed to test whether a brief attention training computer task improves adjustment to civilian life and may reduce the risk for mental health disorders," Mr Chester said.

The trial has already been delivered to the US and Israeli military and is proving successful, especially in important life events such as job interviews and social situations. Open Arms and Phoenix Australia are partnering with representatives from Tel Aviv University to conduct the research nationally.

If the study shows that this attention control intervention is effective, it may be implemented into existing services for transitioning military members.

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