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Effects of social network characteristics on mental health outcomes among United States Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers

APA Citation:

Vest, B. M., Goodell, E. M. A., Homish, D. L., & Homish, G. G. (2022). Effects of social network characteristics on mental health outcomes among United States Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers. Community Mental Health Journal. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-021-00935-1

Abstract Created by REACH:

Social support matters for mental health. This study identified which characteristics of social networks (e.g., overall size of network, composition of network, quality of the network, substance use in network) matter for mental health outcomes – specifically, anger, anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 421 National Guard/Reserve Soldiers (353 men) identified up to 24 social network ties (size of social network), described the characteristics of those relationships (e.g., military affiliated, close tie, ties that involve substance use), and self-reported mental health symptoms. Data collected were used to assess the association between social network characteristics and mental health outcomes while accounting for Soldier characteristics (i.e., sex, age, years served, and deployment history). More close social ties were generally associated with better mental health. Conversely, social ties that involved illicit drug use and drinking were associated with greater symptom severity.

Focus:

Mental health
Substance use

Branch of Service:

Army

Military Affiliation:

Guard
Reserve

Subject Affiliation:

Guard/Reserve member

Population:

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

Methodology:

Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study

Authors:

Vest, Bonnie M., Goodell, Erin M. Anderson, Homish, D. Lynn, Homish, Gregory G.

Abstract:

We sought to examine the relative salience of multiple social network structural characteristics (e.g., size, composition, quality, substance use) for understanding soldiers’ mental health symptoms (anger, anxiety, depression, PTSD). Data are drawn from soldiers (N = 421) participating in the Operation: SAFETY study. Negative binomial regression models examined the relationship between ten social network characteristics and mental health outcomes, controlling for age, sex, years of military service, and deployment history. Greater number of close network ties was associated with fewer symptoms of anger, anxiety, and depression (ps < 0.05), but not PTSD. Having more illicit drug-using network ties was associated with greater severity of anxiety symptoms (p < 0.05). Finally, more days spent drinking with network members was related to higher levels of anger (p < 0.05). Interpersonal relationships that entail substance use are associated with greater anxiety and anger while a greater number of close ties is associated with fewer anger, anxiety, and depression symptoms.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Springer

Publication Type:

Article
REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Family Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, BMV
Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, EMAG
Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, DLH
Department of Family Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, GGH
Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, GGH

Keywords:

social media, mental health, SAFETY study

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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