Psychiatric nursing liaison in a combat zone: an autoethnography

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2013 Dec;20(10):896-901. doi: 10.1111/jpm.12034. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


Military mental health nurses are tasked with providing psychiatric liaison to British forces deployed to combat zones. This forms part of a wider effort to maintain the combat effectiveness of the fighting force. During a recent deployment, I maintained a reflexive journal of my experience of liaising with the British Chain of Command. I then used line by line coding via the NVIVO 9 software package to formulate the core themes that became a framework for this autoethnography. My personality and social anxieties shaped how I performed the psychiatric liaison role. I was able to develop a template for liaison that accounted for both 'me' and my need to feel authentic or credible as a nurse, yet still enabled me to communicate effectively with the Chain of Command. One template for psychiatric nursing liaison with British combat forces is to focus upon key stakeholders within the Chain of Command, specifically, the Officer Commanding, the Sergeant Major, the Trauma Risk Management co-ordinator (usually the Sergeant Major) and the embedded medical asset. Further research is needed to establish how other nurses approach psychiatric nursing liaison.

Keywords: TRiM; autoethnography; liaison; military; nursing; psychiatry.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural / methods
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Humans
  • Military Nursing / methods
  • Military Nursing / standards*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Nursing / methods
  • Psychiatric Nursing / standards*