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Are fathering interventions acceptable to Veterans? A needs and preferences survey

APA Citation:

Primack, J. M., Thompson, M., Doyle, R., & Battle, C. L. (2020). Are fathering interventions acceptable to veterans? A needs and preferences survey. Military Medicine, 185(3/4), 410–413. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usz422

Abstract Created by REACH:

Reintegration following deployment can be a stressful experience for military family members, especially as returning mothers and fathers renegotiate their parenting roles. This stress may be magnified when deployment reintegration coincides with a Service member’s transition out of activeduty service. Parenting programs for newly transitioned Veterans may help alleviate some of this stress by providing knowledge and skills to manage these stressors. However, little is known about Veterans’ preferences for types and modes of parenting programs. Fifty Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) who had recently returned from a deployment, recently separated from the military, and were fathers completed an anonymous survey. They answered questions about parenting programs, including their perceptions of the need for such programs and their knowledge of, interest in, and preferred delivery method for such parenting programs. Responses indicated that many Veterans reported interest in participating in parenting programs upon reintegration, offering implications for program development and implementation.



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study


Primack, Jennifer M. Thompson, Matthew, Doyle, Rachel, Battle, Cynthia L.


Introduction Military deployments cause stress for both service members and their families. Returning Veterans often report significant trauma exposure, and experience increased stress and mental health problems following deployment. These factors can in turn increase family problems and parenting strain among Veterans who are parents, exacerbating mental health symptoms. Men are generally less likely to seek treatment for mental health problems, and male Veterans, in particular, report lower rates of mental health treatment use. Interventions that target fathering or parenting skills may be more acceptable and less stigmatizing to male Veterans while serving the dual function of improving parental relationships and reducing mental health symptoms. However, it is unclear whether Veteran fathers will engage in these services. Materials and Methods As a preliminary evaluation of the acceptability of fathering interventions, 50 returning Veteran fathers completed an anonymous survey designed to assess their needs and preferences regarding this type of service. All procedures were approved by the local Institutional Review Board and Research and Development Committee. Results Ninety-eight percent of participants reported experiencing at least one parenting issue either that started postdeployment or that got noticeably worse following postdeployment. The majority (86%) stated that they would be open to participating in a fathering program if offered. Conclusions Returning Veteran fathers demonstrate interest in and willingness to participate in fathering programs suggesting that parenting programs may be a way to engage Veterans in mental health care following deployment.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Oxford Academic

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, JMP
Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, JMP
Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, MT
Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, MT
Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, RD
Alpert Medical School of Brown University, CLB
Butler Hospital, CLB


father, mental health, mental health services, parent, veterans, wounds and injuries, parenting behavior, stress, military deployment

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  December 2020

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