Understanding special operations forces spouses challenges and resilience: A mixed-method study
Richer, I., Frank, C., & Guérin, E. (2022). Understanding special operations forces spouses challenges and resilience: A mixed-method study, 10(2), 100-111. https://doi.org/10.1080/21635781.2022.2067921
Abstract Created by REACH:
Using both survey and interview data, this study examined challenges and resilience factors among spouses of Canadian Special Operations Forces (SOF). More specifically, 159 Canadian SOF spouses completed surveys examining work-family conflict (i.e., extent to which partner’s work created family issues), social support, and general mental health as well as demographic information. 29 SOF spouses also completed semistructured interviews elaborating on their experiences related to military life. 3 main themes emerged from the interviews: the challenges of having an SOF partner, the impact of the SOF lifestyle on families, and factors contributing to SOF families’ resilience.
Branch of Service:
Spouse of service member or veteran
Active duty service member
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Cross sectional study
Richer, I., Frank, C., Guérin, E.
Special Operations Forces (SOF) are high readiness units that frequently deploy on short notice, leaving their families to cope at home. The objective of this study was to better understand the unique challenges of SOF spouses and the risk and protective factors that contribute to their resilience. The study employed a mixed-methods design, including an online survey (n = 159 spouses) and in-depth semi-structured interviews (n = 29 spouses). Results indicate that while the majority of surveyed SOF spouses had good mental health, they seem to have a higher prevalence of poor mental health than conventional force spouses. Combined survey and interview results indicate that SOF spouses report high levels of work-life conflict and experience challenges related to the demands of the SOF lifestyle. Living in a rural area was inversely related to good mental health, and qualitative findings suggest that this association may be due to career limitations. Social support, especially from the SOF community and their SOF partner, was identified as critical for spouses’ well-being. Participants also discussed having a military background, being independent, engaging in self-care, and using military family services and counseling as key to maintaining their well-being. Recommendations for support needs are discussed.
Taylor & Francis
Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis, IR
Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis, CF
Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis, EG
special operations forces, military spouse, resilience
REACH Publication Type:
Government of Canada