Family adjustment of deployed and nondeployed mothers in families with a parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan

Abigail Gewirtz, Barbara J McMorris, Sheila Hanson, Laurel Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Almost nothing is known about the family and individual adjustment of military mothers who have deployed to the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn; OIF, OEF, OND), constituting a gap in psychologists' knowledge about how best to help this population. We report baseline data on maternal, child, parenting, and couple adjustment for mothers in 181 families in which a parent deployed to OIF/OEF/OND. Among this sample, 34 mothers had deployed at least once, and 147 mothers had experienced the deployment of a male spouse/partner. Mothers completed self-report questionnaires assessing past-year adverse life events, war experiences (for deployed mothers only), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms, difficulties in emotion regulation, parenting, couple adjustment, and child functioning. Mothers who had deployed reported greater distress than nondeployed mothers (higher scores on measures of PTSD and depression symptoms), and slightly more past year adverse events. A moderate number of war experiences (combat and postbattle aftermath events) were reported, consistent with previous studies of women in current and prior conflicts. However, no differences were found between the two groups on measures of couple adjustment, parenting, or child functioning. Results are discussed in terms of the dearth of knowledge about deployed mothers, and implications for psychologists serving military families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-477
Number of pages13
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Volume45
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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Keywords

  • Adjustment
  • Deployment
  • Military families
  • Mothers
  • Parenting

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