We compiled a survey instrument that would match the key themes identified in the preliminary analyses of qualitative data. The initial questionnaire contained segments on demographic, lifestyle (for example smoking and eating habits), health data (height and weight), the 24-item BREQ-3 and the participants’ most recent fitness test results. The items on the BREQ-3 segment were rated on a Likert scale of five options ranging from ‘not true for me’ to ‘very true for me’. The questionnaire was designed to be anonymous and self-administered by a participant comfortable in the use of the English language. Height, weights and fitness test results would be self-reported. The questionnaire was pilot-tested and refined with the help of age-matched conscripts supporting our team.

A full cohort of approximately 600 members of the residential programme were targeted for recruitment during the penultimate week of the residential programme in February 2019. This period coincided with briefings by military staff in preparation for the dispersal of programme participants to various roles following basic training. Conscripts were invited by an independent member of staff, not related to the residential programme or research team, to participate in the self-administered pen-and-paper survey. Potential participants were informed that the survey was anonymous, that their responses would not be tracked and that there would be no direct incentives for their contribution. Persons who declined to participate were advised to return an empty questionnaire at the end of the session.

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