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Family stressors and resources: Relationships with depressive symptoms in military couples during pre-deployment

APA Citation:

Collins, C. L., Lee, K-H., & Wadsworth, S. M. M. (2017). Family stressors and resources: Relationships with depressive symptoms in military couples during pre-deployment. Family Relations, 66, 302-316. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fare.12251

Abstract Created by REACH:

It is just as important to engage in preventative interventions to improve military couples' mental health during the pre-deployment period as it is during the deployment and reintegration periods. To assess pre-deployment mental health, this study had 151 National Guard members and spouses completed an online survey regarding their family stressors, resources, and depressive symptoms four weeks before deployment. Results revealed that informal resources (e.g., family functioning) and expanded resources (e.g., instrumental support) were both important for military couples to deal with depressive symptoms.


Mental health

Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran
Military families


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


Empirical Study
Quantitative Study


Collins, Christina L., Lee, Kyung-Hee, Wadsworth, Shelley M. MacDermid


Objective To evaluate family-related stressors and resources associated with the depressive symptoms of military members and their spouses. Background Most deployment-related research has focused on deployment and reintegration, but there is a dearth of information about military families during the pre-deployment phase. Family stress theory provided a valuable lens from which to view family-related risk and protective factors associated with adaptation during times of stressful transition. Method Data were gathered using an online survey from 151 U.S. Army National Guard members and their spouses preparing for a scheduled deployment. Hierarchical regression was utilized to examine associations between the independent variables (e.g., stress pileup, informal and formal resources, deployment preparation) and participants' depressive symptoms. Results Results revealed that aspects of stress pileup were positively associated with depressive symptoms. Informal resources and deployment preparation, but not formal resources, had statistically significant negative associations with individuals' depressive symptoms. Findings were similar for military members and spouses. Conclusion Results indicated that logistical and instrumental preparation, in addition to informal resources such as effective family functioning and social support, are important for positive adaptation in times of stressful transition. Implications Family service professionals may want to assist families with identifying and strengthening their family support and improving family functioning, as well as guide families in a process of identifying the instrumental and logistical tasks that are necessary or helpful for an impending transition.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

John Wiley & Sons

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, US, CLC
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, US, KHL
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, US, SMMW


depression, family strengths, family stress theory, stress and coping

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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