PhD Research


January 2019

Understanding the relationship between stress and sexual functioning among a cohort of British Army personnel: an exploration into early predictors for declining resilience, emotional deregulation and maladaptive behaviours.

The research project aims to explore how sexual functioning relates to general wellbeing and robust mental health in British Army personnel. It seeks to understand the relationship between perceived stress, sexual behaviour and emotional deregulation in order to measure intimate relationship satisfaction. The study also seeks to distinguish maladaptive sexual behaviours and highlight at-risk groups.

Results could inform the development of clear referral pathways, more transparent treatment plans and psycho-education for both clinicians and patients, with the aim of mitigating risk-taking behaviour and relationship breakdown.



Resilience fails when your environmental demand exceeds your natural regulatory capacity. That is, an individual’s ability to cope with the actual or perceived demands placed on them. This could come any area of your life and can contribute to the development of stress symptoms; such as fatigue, digestive issues, lack of concentration, loss of desire and irritability. Recognising when you notice changes in your mood and wellbeing can be key to catching diminishing resilience early and accessing the right support.



By its nature, the military environment places high demands on its people and can be stressful at times. Many in the military are energetic risk-takers in demanding roles. This potential exposure to times of elevated stress and risk and the regular separation of couples, combined with the prevalence of internet use, has the potential to create the ‘perfect storm’ for emotional disengagement at an intimate and couple level.   This combination of factors can lead to problematic relationship and sexual concerns.



When a person’s psychological capital or resilience is destabilised, then physical, cognitive and emotional functioning can deteriorate leading to emotional detachment.  If that disengagement is prolonged, an individual may find them themselves feeling psychologically stuck or may seek out new reward systems in an attempt to feel better in themselves. It is this dopamine-search that may lead to mood altering behaviours, such as drinking, gambling, gaming and sexual compulsivity.


                 MoD Research Ethic Committee  (MODREC)                                  Army Sponsor

       Army Scientific Advisory Committee (ASAC)                                  University of Chester Ethics Committee

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