(334) 844-3299
Detailed Record
Share this Article

Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families

APA Citation:

Trail, T. E., Meadows, S. O., Miles, J. N., & Karney, B. R. (2017). Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families. Journal of Family Issues, 38(15), 2128 – 2149. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X15592660

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined whether distinct profiles for Service members (SMs) and their civilian spouses could be identified based on areas of vulnerability (i.e., adverse childhood experiences, poor mental or physical health, stressful military or nonmilitary experiences, family stress) and whether couples experienced these vulnerabilities (i.e., risk of negative outcomes) to a similar degree. Data from 1,981 SMs and their spouses were used to determine their vulnerability profiles. Five distinct profiles emerged for SMs and six for spouses. For approximately half of the couples, both partners experienced low overall vulnerability. Supplementary analyses indicated that those who experienced a source of vulnerability in one area (e.g., childhood adversity) were more likely to report vulnerabilities in other areas (e.g., family stress).



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Trail, Thomas E., Meadows, Sarah O., Miles, Jeremy N., Karney, Benjamin R. Karney


The appropriate format for services supporting military families depends on how vulnerabilities and resources are distributed across and within those families. If different types of vulnerabilities cluster together, then programs supporting families should combine multiple services rather than targeting specific concerns. Yet scant data exist about how vulnerabilities and resources covary within military families. The current study addressed this issue through a latent class analysis of data on a wide range of domains obtained from a stratified random sample of 1,981 deployable, active component, married servicemembers and their spouses. Within married deployable servicemembers, results indicated that vulnerabilities and resources cluster together within individuals; servicemembers at high risk in one domain are likely to be high risk in multiple domains. This is less the case for spouses. One or both spouses are vulnerable in 39% of couples. These results support programs that provide vulnerable military families with more comprehensive services.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

SAGE Publications

Publication Type:

REACH Publication
Featured Research

Author Affiliation:

RAND Corporation, TET
RAND Corporation, SOM
RAND Corporation, JNM
RAND Corporation, BRK
University of California, BRK


military families, resilience, profiles, latent class analysis, vulnerability

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


This research was funded by the Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the Defense Centers for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and was conducted jointly within the RAND Arroyo Center and the National Defense Research Institute under Contracts W74V8H-06-C-0001 and W74V8H-06-C-0002.

This website uses cookies to improve the browsing experience of our users. Please review Auburn University’s Privacy Statement for more information. Accept & Close