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A dyadic examination of drinking behaviors within military-connected couples

APA Citation:

Lee, J. D., O’Neill, A. S., Denning, E. C., Mohr, C. D., & Hammer, L. B. (2020). A dyadic examination of drinking behaviors within military-connected couples. Military Behavioral Health, 8(4), 396–409. https://doi.org/10.1080/21635781.2020.1825241

Abstract Created by REACH:

Military couples may be more likely to engage in hazardous drinking (e.g., frequency of drinking, regret about drinking) and problematic drinking behaviors (i.e., frequency and number of drinks per drinking day) when they experience greater psychological distress (i.e., depression and anxiety). To better understand these associations, 260 military couples (i.e., one Veteran spouse and one civilian spouse) reported on their psychological distress and hazardous drinking at baseline and then completed daily questionnaires for 32 consecutive days regarding their actual drinking behaviors. Psychological distress was associated with more hazardous drinking, which, in turn, was associated with more problematic drinking behaviors.


Substance use
Mental health

Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study


Lee, James D., O'Neill, AnnaMarie S., Denning, Emily C., Mohr, Cynthia D., Hammer, Leslie B.


High rates of alcohol use have been documented within military personnel and spouses. However, scant research has investigated alcohol consumption behaviors in matched couples or nonclinical veteran samples. The manner in which couples influence one another's drinking remains unclear. The current study examined hazardous drinking scores and drinking behaviors in a sample of post-9/11 separated service members (most of whom were veterans) and active duty reservists and their spouse/partners; 260 military-connected couples participated in the Study for Employment Retention of Veterans (SERVe) and were recruited from 35 workplace organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Participants completed baseline and daily surveys on alcohol consumption over the span of 32 days. Among study highlights, Actor–Partner Interdependence Models (APIM) revealed actor effects for psychological distress predicting alcohol use variables. Significant partner effects were also revealed for hazardous drinking (AUDIT) scores predicting subsequent alcohol use, over and above actor (i.e., within-person) effects of those relationships. Higher levels of subsequent drinking frequency and quantity were evident among partners of veterans with higher hazardous drinking scores. Spouses with higher hazardous drinking scores were associated with veteran partners who drank more frequently. Results shed light on how military-connected couples, particularly those engaging in hazardous drinking, uniquely influence one another's alcohol consumption behaviors. Ultimately, findings highlight the importance of including spouses of veterans to elucidate the interplay of drinking behaviors within military-connected couples. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Psychology, Portland State University, JDL
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, ASO
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, ECD
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, CDM
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, LBH
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health & Science University, LBH


military, veterans, military spouses, alcohol, hazardous drinking, APIM, psychological distress

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  December 2021

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