The ADVANCE Study (ArmeD SerVices TrAuma RehabilitatioN OutComE Study), a unique twenty-year study into the health of military veterans, has secured crucial funding for the next ten years…

The Study has received a very substantial grant from the Headley Court Charity (£10M), complemented by a special grant from the Nuffield Trust for the Forces of the Crown (£1M) to mark the Trust’s 80th anniversary, and a five-year commitment from Blesma, The Limbless Veterans (£250K).

These grants will assure the future of the ADVANCE Study for the next ten years and will build on the funding from the Ministry of Defence, LIBOR fines, and Help for Heroes which enabled the setup of the study and the initial recruitment into the study.

To realise the full potential of ADVANCE, multiple follow-ups of the study participants over many years are essential. This will result in many significant research outcomes that will improve the clinical care of combat casualties. These enabling grants were donated to the ADVANCE Study Charity which supports all ADVANCE activity within Imperial College London, King’s College London and the Ministry of Defence.

Group Captain Alex Bennett, Defence Professor of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation and Chief Investigator of the study, commented: “We are hugely grateful to the Headley Court Charity, Nuffield Trust for the Forces of the Crown, and Blesma for their generous support which will secure the next ten years of research and allow us to improve our understanding of the long term outcomes of being a combat casualty.”

Lord Boyce, Chairman of the ADVANCE Study Charity commented: “We are extraordinarily fortunate to be the beneficiaries of the generous decisions of the trustees of the Headley Court Charity, Nuffield Trust and Blesma. Our thanks go to them on behalf of those who will benefit from the unique learning of the ADVANCE Study, and we shall look forward to demonstrating the impact their donations will enable for our wounded and their families.”

ADVANCE investigates the long-term physical and psycho-social outcomes of battlefield casualties from the UK Armed Forces following deployment to Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014. This study, costing over £1M per year to run, is a collaboration between the Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Stanford Hall, Imperial College London and King’s College London, and is the first prospective cohort study in this area.

It aims to follow up and support this group of UK service personnel – 600 severely injured servicemen and 600 uninjured servicemen who act as a comparison group – for a period of 20 years. The ADVANCE Study is investigating a wide range of outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, mental health and social outcomes.

The participants will have multiple and thorough health checks over the 20 years of the study and by being involved will contribute towards world class research that will improve future combat casualty care. Participant Jonathan Grave said: “I have a genuine interest in health and research and really believe the study has good intentions. And more importantly, I wanted to contribute towards ADVANCE and help research that will support long-term care outcomes for serving personnel and veterans.”

If you were deployed to Afghanistan and sustained an injury which required you to be case-evaced to a UK hospital, or were deployed to Afghanistan without injury and would like to check to see if you are eligible to take part, please call the ADVANCE team on +44 (0)1509 251 500 (ext. 3408) or email them. You can also contact the team via the online contact form.

If you take part, the study will cover your travel expenses, offer accommodation and give you £100 as a thank you for the initial review and £200 for each follow-up visit.