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Military families' stressful reintegration, family climate, and their adolescents' psychosocial health

APA Citation:

O’Neal, C. W., & Mancini, J. A. (2021). Military families’ stressful reintegration, family climate, and their adolescents’ psychosocial health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 83(2), 375-393. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12711

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study explored the associations between stressful family reintegration (i.e., experiencing relationship strain and difficulty adapting to change during reintegration) after deployment and adolescent psychosocial health (i.e., anxiety, depression, self-efficacy, and personal well-being). Further, this study examined family climate, including family cohesion (i.e., closeness, support), parenting quality, and interparental conflict, as factors that may explain the associations between stressful reintegration and adolescent psychosocial health while accounting for military context (e.g., rank and amount of time since the most recent deployment). Secondary data from 238 military families (i.e., active-duty Service member, civilian spouse, and an adolescent) were analyzed to examine these associations. Overall, parents’ stressful reintegration was related to family climate and, in turn, to adolescents’ psychosocial health.


Child maltreatment

Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Child of a service member or veteran
Spouse of service member or veteran
Military families


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


O'Neal, Catherine Walker, Mancini, Jay A.


Objective Grounded in the Contextual Model of Family Stress, this study sought to identify (a) how military families' postdeployment reintegration experiences relate to the psychosocial health of adolescents and (b) indicators of family climate as a linking mechanism. Background Reintegration requires individuals, families, and systems to readjust after a period of family disruption. Assessing reintegration is pivotal for understanding how military families are faring and what leverage points exist for enhancing their well-being. Method The sample included 238 Active Duty (AD) military families with one service member and one civilian parent. Most parents were married and between the ages of 31–40 years. Adolescents (51.3% boys) ranged from 11 to 18 years (M = 14.13). A path analysis model with data from multiple family members examined the associations between (a) AD and civilian parents' perceptions of their family reintegration and military context, (b) their adolescents' perceptions of family climate, and (3) adolescents' psychosocial health (i.e., anxiety, depression, self-efficacy, and personal well-being). Results Both parents' experiences with family reintegration were indirectly related to adolescents' psychosocial health through indicators of family climate, particularly interparental conflict. The magnitude of significant effects ranged from small to medium, and time since deployment and gender were found to modify select findings. Conclusion These findings suggest clear leverage points for interventions with military families as they adjust to deployment reintegration, including a focus on parenting, parents' interactions with one another as a family reorients after deployment, and how adolescents perceive their own adjustment and that of their parents.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

John Wiley & Sons

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

The University of Georgia, CWO
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, JAM
The University of Georgia, JAM


adolescence, family processes, family stress, mental health, military families, well-being

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2020

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