Military Advantage

Pentagon Seeking Survivors to Test Grief Support Apps

Mother using smartphone with children present

The Department of Defense is seeking volunteers to test apps that help survivors deal with the grief accompanying loss.

The apps, developed by scientists and clinicians at Uniformed Services University and Columbia University, are designed to address grief-related challenges and help survivors share their experiences about changes in their lives during the period of adjustment following a death. Study participation may also help you evaluate how you are coping with the situation and whether you would like to request additional support after the study has ended.

The Stepping Forward in Grief Study, in partnership with The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the Travis Manion Foundation, Army Survivor Outreach Services, American Gold Star Mothers, and Gold Star Wives of America, is testing two apps. They were developed in response to findings from the National Military Family Bereavement Study, which suggested that grief-related challenges among military survivors can continue for years after a loss and that many survivors desire additional support.

Family members over the age 18, friends, unit members, and others who have experienced a loss can volunteer to become participants in the study.

Volunteers will be randomly assigned to one of two programs, GriefSteps or WellnessSteps. Once enrolled, participants will have access to their assigned program for six months and will be asked to provide feedback about their experience.

Enrollment is open through June 30.

You can sign up by going to https://steppingforwardstudy.org/ and clicking "Enroll Now." You'll be asked to answer screening questions, to fill out an online consent form, and to complete a 20-minute survey. Once your application is submitted, you will be called by study personnel to complete a screening and enrollment.

According to the developers, the program is designed to create an online community that helps survivors adapt to loss and encourages them to discuss their grief with others who have experienced similar situations. While participants may be located all over the world, their shared experiences allow them to receive support from others and provide assistance to others who need it.

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