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Identifying mental health profiles among adolescents who experienced a recent parental deployment or military-related family separation

APA Citation:

Lucier-Greer, M., O’Neal, C. W., & Mancini, J. A. (2023). Identifying mental health profiles among adolescents who experienced a recent parental deployment or military-related family separation. Journal of Family Nursing, 29(3), 301-312. https://doi.org/10.1177/10748407231163588

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study aimed to identify mental health profiles of military-affiliated adolescents who recently experienced a military-related parental separation (e.g., deployment). A sample of 573 militaryconnected adolescents was used first to explore whether distinct mental health profiles emerged based on adolescents’ self-efficacy, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and interpersonal problems. Next, a separate sample of 186 military-connected adolescents was used to confirm the previously identified mental health profiles, as well as to examine related covariates (i.e., family cohesion, interparental conflict, marital adjustment) and adolescent outcomes (i.e., physical health, school enjoyment). Data for the exploratory sample were collected from adolescents only. Data for the confirmatory sample were collected from adolescents and both their Service member and civilian parents. Results revealed 3 distinct mental health profiles among military adolescents: lowest, moderate, and highest risk. Most adolescents were in the lowest risk profile, demonstrating resilience despite parental separation.


Mental health

Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

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


Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)


Cross sectional study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Lucier-Greer, Mallory, O’Neal, Catherine Walker, Mancini, Jay A.


Accessing two independent samples of adolescents in military families in the United States who recently experienced parental separation (N = 573; N = 186), this study sought to identify adolescent mental health profiles indexed on multiple indicators. In other words, we asked how military adolescents fare after parental separation in terms of mental health indicators. Proximal family processes (family cohesion, conflict, and marital adjustment) were also examined in relation to mental health profiles as well as core adolescent outcomes, self-rated health, and school enjoyment. In both samples, three profiles emerged identifying similar structures of mental health profiles. Two-thirds of adolescents were in the lowest risk mental health group. Poor family cohesion and greater conflict were associated with the moderate and highest risk groups. The lowest risk group reported better health and greater school enjoyment. Family nurses and other health care professionals are encouraged to inquire about military connectedness, structural changes occurring within the family system, and family processes in relation to adolescent well-being.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


mental health profiles, parental deployment, family separation

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  August 2023

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