Army Funds Research on Family Stress during Military Deployments
The Department of Defense's Defense Health Program is funding research to examine the impact of military deployments on spouses and children.
Dr. Deborah Beidel, Professor of Psychology and Medical Education at the University of Central Florida, presented the study entitled, "When Parents Go to War: Psychological Adjustments Among the Families of Deployed OEF/OIF Service Members," at the 2013 Military Health System Research Symposium Aug. 14 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"We know [when parents deploy] that we see increases in fear and decreases in academic performance [among military children]," Beidel explained, during her presentation. "But what is statistically significant and what is clinically significant? When is intervention necessary? No one says."
Beidel said they are looking at objective measures of stress, such as participants' sleep schedules and saliva samples to measure cortisol. The study will also include diagnostic interviews and self-assessment tools, such as participant self-reporting and spouse reports.
The study, which started in January 2013, is now recruiting participants and plans to have 450 active duty and reserve families at three sites including Orlando, Fla., Houston, Texas, and Honolulu.
The project will be completed in collaboration with the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, which manages an extensive portfolio of research aimed at developing effective countermeasures against stressors to maximize health, performance and well-being throughout the deployment cycle. Beidel said that depending on what the study results show, follow on work could focus on tools to build service member and family resilience.
"With unique factors including multiple and prolonged deployments, families need tools to cope with stress," said Beidel. "By helping the family cope better, we ensure the service member can focus on the mission."
MHSRS is the DoD's premier scientific meeting addressing the unique medical needs of the warfighter. This conference combines the former Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care Conference, the Air Force Medical Service Medical Research Symposium and the Navy Medicine Research Conference.