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Impact of deployment on military families with young children: A systematic review

APA Citation:

Trautmann, J., Alhusen, J., & Gross, D. (2015). Impact of deployment on military families with young children: A systematic review. Nursing Outlook, 63, 656-679. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.outlook.2015.06.002

Abstract Created by REACH:

Parental deployment can be a stressful experience for young children and their families, especially during the early years of child development when children rely heavily on their parents’ physical and emotional availability for positive development. Using 26 articles published between 2001 and 2014, this systematic review examines the literature on (1) how deployment impacts military families with young children (five-years-old or younger), (2) evidence-based interventions for these families, and (3) the needs of military families from minority racial/ethnic backgrounds and/or lower socioeconomic status. Findings of this review indicate that deployment is associated with poorer individual and family outcomes, but that some intervention programs are helpful to military families with young children.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

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


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
Neonatal (birth - 1 mo)
Preschool age (2 -5 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)


Review of Literature


Trautmann, Jennifer, Alhusen, Jeanne, Gross, Deborah


Background: More than 40% of children in military families are <6 years old, a period when children are most dependent on their parents' physical and emotional availability. Purpose: This systematic review describes the impact of deployment since 9/11 on the mental health of military families with young children, evaluates evidence-based interventions for military parents with young children, and identifies gaps in the science limiting our ability to support the needs of these families. Methods: Databases were reviewed from 2001 to 2014 using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses approach; 26 studies met review criteria. Results: Deployment was associated with increased parent stress, child behavior problems, health care utilization, and child maltreatment. Few studies tested interventions or focused on racial/ethnic minority or veteran families. A number of methodological limitations are noted. Conclusions: More research using multiple methods, stronger designs, and more diverse samples is needed to understand and address the needs of military families with young children.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication
Featured Research

Author Affiliation:

Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, JT
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, JA
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, DG


child mental health, health disparities, mental health, military families, parenting, review of literature, systematic review, veteran, young children

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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