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Body image concerns and psychological wellbeing among injured combat veterans with scars and limb loss: A review of the literature

Keeling, Mary; Williamson, Heidi; Williams, Victoria; Kiff, James; Harcourt, Diana


Mary Keeling
Senior Research Fellow in visible difference and military conflict research

Heidi Williamson
Associate Professor in Applied Health Research

Victoria Williams
Research Associate: Visible Difference as a result of military conflict

James Kiff
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS HSS


A narrative literature review aimed to determine the nature and prevalence of body image and psychosocial concerns and associated support needs among veterans with combat-related appearance-altering injuries. A systematic approach to a narrative review included searching published and grey literature between September 2018 and January 2019 and again in November 2019. Four hundred and twenty-seven papers were retrieved and judged against the eligibility criteria. Four papers were considered eligible and relevant and included in the review. Limited research investigating body image and psychosocial concerns among combat veterans with an altered appearance exists. The four papers indicate that combat injured veterans may experience body image distress and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and social anxiety. Military culture may enable resilience. Additional research is required to determine the scope and nature of the psychosocial impact of appearance-altering injuries among combat injured veterans. Further research should identify support gaps and inform the development of evidence-based interventions where needed.


Keeling, M., Williamson, H., Williams, V., Kiff, J., & Harcourt, D. (in press). Body image concerns and psychological wellbeing among injured combat veterans with scars and limb loss: A review of the literature. Military Behavioral Health,

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jun 11, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 11, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 16, 2021
Journal Military Behavioral Health
Print ISSN 2163-5781
Electronic ISSN 2163-5803
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Body image; military veterans; combat veterans; combat injury; burns; limb loss; scars; physical scarring; disfigurement; resilience
Public URL