Background: Research indicates that low social support and isolation are risk factors for veteran suicide (DeBeer et al., 2014). Further, integrating social support into treatments for veterans has demonstrated positive results (Price et al., 2018); yet, this strategy has not typically been capitalized on within veteran suicide prevention. Despite the importance of social connectedness, there is little research indicating the effectiveness of including concerned significant others (CSOs; e.g., family members, spouses, close friends, and peers) in veteran suicide prevention efforts. Research in this area has been exploratory initially and is helping to identify important priorities for study among stakeholders (DeBeer, et al., 2019; Krause-Parello et al., 2019). Early research indicates the acceptability for this approach both among veterans and CSOs (DeBeer et al., 2019).
Proposed Solution: This engagement project will host a community convening in Houston, Texas, “All Hands on Deck: Community Convening to Improve Research on Veteran Suicide Prevention,” to facilitate discussions with 200 stakeholders (veterans, concerned significant others, mental health providers, and researchers) to design innovative engagement strategies in veteran suicide prevention research for concerned significant others. A stakeholder advisory board will guide the project and co-publish and broadly disseminate a Concerned Significant Other Engagement Guide to support patient-centered outcome research in veteran suicide prevention. Small groups will discuss ways to engage concerned significant others in PCOR on veteran suicide comparative effectiveness research on firearms safety and crisis response and safety planning research, among other research topics suggested for inclusion by the advisory board.
• Involve concerned significant others of veterans in the development of new engagement strategies in veteran suicide prevention research
• Obtain perspectives of all stakeholders (including researchers and healthcare providers) to design new engagement strategies for research in veteran suicide prevention.
Activities: Host meeting of 200 stakeholders to develop new methods for engagement; form advisory board of stakeholders to guide project; develop stakeholder-driven engagement guide that will allow for broad input and contributions from concerned significant others, to be disseminated by stakeholders.
Outputs (projected): Broadly disseminate a CSO Engagement Guide to support PCOR in veteran suicide prevention.
Patient/Stakeholder Engagement: Form stakeholder advisory board comprised of veterans, concerned significant others, mental health providers, and researchers to develop the project design, plan and run the convening, and co-create all products of the convening. The convening will bring together 200 stakeholders to design engagement strategies in research on veteran suicide that address their preferences and are informed by their own experiences. Videos of stakeholders describing the engagement principles will be disseminated to put a human face to the engagement practices and to create additional ways for stakeholders to contribute to the project.
Collaborators: Florida Atlantic University and the University of Colorado at Denver are subcontracts for this project. In addition, Combined Arms in Houston, Texas, an umbrella organization that coordinates with 60 veteran service organizations, will cohost the convening, supporting recruitment, logistics, and providing staff support.