The Deployment Life Study: Longitudinal Analysis of Military Families Across the Deployment Cycle.

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Page Count
387
Year Published
2016
Author (Individual)
Meadows, Sarah O.
Tanielian, Terri.
Karney, Benjamin R.
Author (Organization)
RAND Corporation.
Resource Type
Report
Resource Format
PDF

In 2009, the RAND Corporation launched the Deployment Life Study, a longitudinal study of military families to examine family readiness. The study surveyed 2,724 families at frequent intervals through- out a complete deployment cycle—that is, before a service member deploys (sometimes months before), during the actual deployment, and after the service member returns (possibly a year or more after she or he has redeployed). It assessed outcomes over time, including the following: the quality of marital and parental relationships; the psychological, behavioral, and physical health of family members; child and teen well-being (e.g., emotional, behavioral, social, and academic); and military integration (e.g., attitudes toward military service, retention intentions). The Deployment Life Study used a single design and the same survey instruments to study military family members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps (modified only slightly to make them service- and component-appropriate), thus allowing for potential comparisons across services and components (active, reserve, and guard). Findings are reported and indicate: the most-significant changes experienced by military families across the deployment cycle occur during the deployment itself; significant variation exists across family members with respect to how they experience deployment; and the analyses revealed a set of risk and readiness factors that appear to be associated reliably with multiple domains of post-deployment outcomes. The study found families who engaged in pre-deployment readiness activities experienced more favorable outcomes post-deployment than families that did not and that that more frequent communication and higher satisfaction with the amount of communication with the service member during deployment was associated with more-favorable outcomes post-deployment. With respect to risk factors, the study identified the experience of traumatic events during the deployment as a risk factor for worse outcomes post-deployment. Numerous references. (Author abstract modified)

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