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Attachment-based relationship satisfaction in deployed and non-deployed military veterans with prevalent PTSD, anxiety, and depression

APA Citation:

Ponder, W. N., Whitworth, J., Ross, K., & Sherrill, T. (2022). Attachment-based relationship satisfaction in deployed and non-deployed military veterans with prevalent PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Journal of Veteran Studies, 8(3), 47-53. https://doi.org/10.21061/jvs. v8i3.330

Abstract Created by REACH:

Researchers used an attachment theory framework to understand Veterans’ attachment style and mental health symptoms (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression, anxiety) as predictors of couple relationship satisfaction among Veterans seeking outpatient mental health treatment. This study highlighted two types of insecure attachment styles: avoidant (i.e., disconnecting from others due to fear of being hurt) and anxious (i.e., seeking connection with others due to fear of being disliked). The study also explored the differences between previously deployed (n = 68) and never deployed (n = 49) Veterans. Overall, attachment style had an impact on relationship satisfaction for previously deployed Veterans but not for those who had never deployed.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Marine Corps
Coast Guard
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



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


Quantitative Study


Ponder, Warren N., Whitworth, James, Ross, Kristin, Sherrill, Tempa


After almost two decades of war, unprecedented operational tempos have remained high for the American military. This has left those on the home front (non-deploying veterans) a little behind since scholarship has mostly focused on veterans who have deployed. This study used a voluntary treatment-seeking sample of veterans who have not deployed (n = 49) and veterans who have deployed (n = 68) to address this gap in the literature. This study examines the associations between attachment avoidance, attachment anxiety, mental health constructs (i.e., generalized anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder), and relationship satisfaction. Independent samples t-test comparisons, correlational analyses, and two hierarchical regressions were conducted. The variables that were significantly correlated with relationship satisfaction for both samples were attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety. In the non-deployed sample, the regression was not statistically significant. However, in the deployed sample the regression was statistically significant. In the final step of the hierarchical regression, only attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety were significant predictors of relationship satisfaction. Implications for social work and other behavioral health clinicians are highlighted, including the benefits of practitioners working to help veterans develop and maintain supportive partners and other relationships, particularly through using the attachment theory-based approach of Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Virginia Tech Publishing

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

One Tribe Foundation, WNP
University of Central Florida, JW
One Tribe Foundation, KR
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, TS


PTSD, attachment styles, relationship satisfaction

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  January 2023

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