Study Considers Effect of Deployment on Children

A recent study has found that considerable percentage of military youth are considered to be at high risk for psychological problems.

Doctors and researchers from Madigan Army Medical Center conducted the study to examine the effect of parents’ deployments on children’s mental health. Led by Dr. Eric Flake, a Madigan pediatrician, the team published its findings in August’s Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

The article’s authors (which in addition to Flake include Dr. Beth Ellen Davis, Patti L. Johnson, PhD, and Laura S. Middleton, PhD) asked Army spouses of deployed service members with children aged 5-12 to complete screening questionnaires to determine the risk of psychosocial problems. The questionnaires included the Pediatric Symptom Checklist, the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form and the Perceived Stress Scale.

Thirty-two percent of the children were considered to be at high risk for psychological problems. Forty-two percent of the parents were also considered to be high risk. Children of spouses with high stress were more likely to be at risk for problems. Parents utilizing military support reported fewer problems with their child.

Parental college education also showed decreased stress on the child. Military rank, gender, age of the child, and ethnic background did not appear to be important. The authors conclude military, family and community supports help mitigate family stress during periods of deployment.

FYI: Two million children in the U.S. have parents in the military. The impact of deployment on these children is unknown, and relatively few studies have focused on the effects on children.

The article, titled “The Psychosocial Effects of Deployment on Military Children,” is accessible via through PubMed (subscription required).

© Copyright 2017 Department of Veterans Affairs. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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