Trialing a Postdeployment Parenting Intervention for Service Members & Their Families With Very Young Children

Research Paper Title

A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Postdeployment Parenting Intervention for Service Members and Their Families With Very Young Children.

Background

Parenting through the deployment cycle presents unique stressors for military families. To date, few evidence-based and military-specific parenting programmes are available to support parenting through cycles of deployment separation and reintegration, especially for National Guard/Reserve members.

The purpose of this research was to test the efficacy of a parenting programme developed specifically to support military families during reintegration.

Methods

Within 1 year of returning from deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq, 115 service members with very young children were randomly assigned to receive either the Strong Families Strong Forces Parenting Program at baseline or after a 12-week waiting period. Using a home-based modality, service members, at-home parents, and their young child were assessed at baseline, 3 months post treatment/wait period, and 6 months from baseline.

Results

Service member parents in Strong Families evidenced greater reductions in parenting stress and mental health distress relative to those in the wait list comparison group. Service members with more post traumatic stress symptoms reported higher levels of perceived parental efficacy in the intervention group than service members in the comparison group. Intervention also resulted in enhanced parental reflective capacity, including increased curiosity and interest in the young child among those in the intervention group relative to comparison.

Conclusion

Service member parents and their spouses demonstrated high interest in participating in a post deployment parenting programme targeting families with very young children. Findings point to the feasibility, appeal, and efficacy of Strong Families in this initial trial and suggest promise for implementation in broader military and community service systems.

Reference

DeVoe, E.R., Paris, R., Emmert-Aronson, B., Ross, A. & Acker, M. (2016) A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Postdeployment Parenting Intervention for Service Members and Their Families With Very Young Children. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice & Policy. DOI: 10.1037/tra0000196. [Epub ahead of print].

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