Resilience Study

We're undertaking a study to help us understand how different people cope with the stresses of operating in higher-risk locations.

Travelling to higher-risk locations places people in environments in which there are significant threats to their safety, security and health.

Operating in such challenging environments can result in increased levels of anxiety and feelings of stress. Anxiety and stress can be experienced both in specific moments and across the entire duration of a deployment. If not managed, consistently high levels of anxiety and stress can decrease performance. This can have a range of negative impacts, many of which will result in the individual becoming more vulnerable to threats and risks.

Being able to respond resiliently to the demands of higher-risk environments is, thus, essential for operating effectively and staying safe and well in those settings.

Help us understand how to support resilient function in higher-risk locations.

Take the survey now

Study objectives

The objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. Identify the environmental factors that impact individual performance and wellbeing in higher-risk environments, and develop frameworks to better define these factors.
  2. Identify the practices and techniques that individuals can adopt to help manage anxiety before, during and after travel to a higher-risk location. Determine which of these practices and techniques are most effective.
  3. Identify the factors that influence resilience in higher-risk environments, including gender, age, training, experience and others.
  4. Identify successful strategies for managing anxiety and stress, and maintaining consistent levels of performance.

Who should complete this survey?

This survey is for individuals who work in, or travel to, higher-risk environments.

Such people may include journalists, film makers, aid workers, researchers, security consultants, and adventure travellers, amongst others.

We recognise that people may travel to higher-risk locations for professional and / or personal reasons. We're interested in both perspectives.

Please do not complete this survey if your experience in operating in higher-risk locations is in a military context (i.e., based in a military facility, wearing a uniform, carrying a weapon).

For the purpose of this survey, a "higher-risk" environment is characterised as a location where there are serious security threats. Such threats may include high levels of crime, insurgency or terrorism.

In addition to these security threats, there may be other environmental factors, including the following:

  • Weak law enforcement
  • High levels of corruption
  • Poor public infrastructure and limited healthcare capabilities.

Using US government travel advisories as a benchmark, countries with a travel advisory level of 3 (reconsider travel) or 4 (do not travel) could be categorised as higher risk (excluding categorisations due to COVID-19).

Take the survey now

What are the outputs to the study?

We will release an interim report once we have sufficient data to reach meaningful conclusions.

We will also produce a small handbook that provides guidance to individuals operating in higher-risk environments. This handbook will contain practices and techniques that individuals can follow to better manage anxiety and assure high levels of performance. All respondents will receive a free copy of this handbook.

Once we have a robust data set, we will release a final report of the findings from the study.

We also plan to use the findings to produce training packages, which will be designed to better prepare individuals for work in higher-risk environments.


Who are the people behind this study?

We've assembled a team of internationally recognised specialists to prepare this survey and to analyse the results.

Grant Rayner

Grant has over 30 years experience as a security professional, working in government and private sectors. He has worked extensively in higher-risk locations, advising clients on how to manage risk, supporting clients during crisis events, and evacuating people from escalating situations. He has written several publications focused on how to operate safely and successfully in higher-risk environments.

Dr. Nathan Smith

Nathan is a Research Fellow in Psychology, Security and Trust at the University of Manchester. His research is primarily focused on issues related to human behaviour, performance and health under conditions of extreme stress. This falls broadly into two areas: defence and security operations and remote fieldwork and expeditions. Learn more about Nathan's work here.

Jan Chipchase

Jan is the founder of Studio D. Studio D provides discreet international research, design and strategy services to multinational clients with a global remit. Jan has conducted field research projects in a number of higher-risk locations. Jan has also conducted comprehensive studies in resilience and runs an annual Emotional Resilience Masterclass.


Privacy Statement

We are collecting and storing the information provided in response to the survey questions in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 which legislate to protect your personal information. Upon retrieving responses from the online survey platform, any personal information (such as email addresses) will be separated from the main dataset to protect anonymity.