Lived Experience

Lived Experience Input

It is really important that those who experience life with any kind of difficulty provide input into what will ultimately help.

Gambling, as a field of interest, has surged forward in ensuring that those with lived experience are included at every step of the journey, whether that is research or the creation of an intervention. Ultimately, where policy or practice change is required, that is usually informed by research so those with lived experience must be included right from the start.

Researchers can create abstract ideas of what may help support those with gambling difficulties, based on evidence relating to similar populations or other difficulties (e.g., alcohol) but how do we really know if it works or if it is what veterans actually want? Also, researchers can conduct some well-designed experiments or tests to assess behaviour, but what happens when weird results are produced? We need those with lived experience to tell us what was happening, what the context was, or what perhaps contributed to the outcome.

The ACT Vet Research

When the idea of ACT Vet was first conceived the research team asked a group of veterans, with a range of lived experiences, questions such as:

Do you think an app is a good idea, based on your experience of gambling support?

Would an app trigger gambling if, say, you gambled on your phone?

Do you think an app would work, as a support tool for veterans?

What would you like to see included?

Veteran's Comments

When the idea of ACT Vet was first conceived the research team asked a group of veterans, with a range of lived experiences, questions such as:

When asked what sort of app they wanted:

“I went to GA for gambling support specifically…the app has to treat gambling [versus PTSD that may drive gambling]”

When asked what features they wanted in the app:

“…if you’ve got 10 veterans doing this together, it’s giving them the option to have that [virtual] group where they can connect with each other to discuss. I know you said people might be working on different things but I think having these people to be able to connect with each other is hugely powerful…”

When asked about their opinions of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as a support tool, embedded within an app:

“…[ACT as a therapy ought to be delivered by] guided, self-help programme… if you just give people an app, they probably wouldn’t do very well, without any guidance…”.

“The first time I went to therapy acceptance wasn’t there. I was forced by my wife…but the second time I came to terms with what I had done. Acceptance was really powerful”

These are just some of the points the veterans in our focus group made, but they are key pieces of information we needed to create a support tool. Based on this information we have created an app, that is marketed as a gambling support app, it contains structured therapy, the therapy is underpinned by acceptance, and the app also has a community section.

Once we had created our manual, which provides a step-by-step structure to the therapy, veterans provided more feedback as to whether each step of the manual was resonating and easy to follow. We also received feedback on whether the graphics that brought the therapy to life were eye-catching and brought the therapy to life.

As we move forward, past the app launch, we will be asking for feedback on things such as:

The experience of using the app in real-time

The quality of the visuals

The usability of the app

The efficiency of the app

Whether the app is engaging

Whether you would recommend the app to someone else

Is there anything you think we ought to remove?

Your reflections on using the app once you have completed the programme.

Lived Experience Panel

We will collect some of this feedback via a telephone or through an in-person discussion, so we can assess what you think while you are using it or after you have used it.

Any feedback you provide will be anonymous and fed into future versions of the app. It is vital that the app is tailored towards veterans, therefore, it needs input from veterans to make it tailored. Additionally, feedback will assist us when we seek NHS endorsement, and future investment to keep the app in circulation as a free tool.

Please consider joining our lived experience panel. The research team are happy to answer any question about being part of our lived experience panel, in terms of what that consists of and what we require of you. It is completely optional, and if you decide you do not have time to provide feedback on ACT Vet then you are under no obligation to do so. Please be assured that all data received by the research team will be kept in a manner that strictly adheres to data protection and GDPR.