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InDependent but not Alone: A web-based intervention to promote physical and mental health among military spouses

APA Citation:

Mailey, E. L., Irwin, B. C., Joyce, J. M., & Hsu, W. W. (2019). InDependent but not Alone: A web-based intervention to promote physical and mental health among military spouses. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 11, 562-583. https://doi.org/10.1111/aphw.12168

Abstract Created by REACH:

The demands on military spouses can make it difficult for them to access in-person programs; thus, online self-help interventions may be a useful resource. An interactive, web-based intervention called InDependent but not Alone was designed to improve the mental and physical health of military spouses and address the three psychological needs identified in self-determination theory: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Intervention participants met for an in-person kickoff and were assigned to small groups (4-6 people) to connect with while engaging in the 10-week online program, which included podcasts and weekly challenges. To examine the effectiveness of this intervention, military spouses were assigned to the intervention group (InDependent but not Alone; n = 119) or the control group (web program, Operation Live Well; n = 112). The control condition provided education on mental and physical health without the interactive component. Physical and mental health were measured before and after both programs. Participants in both interventions saw decreases in mental health symptoms and increases in positive physical health behaviors.


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)


Longitudinal Study
Quantitative Study


Mailey, Emily L., Irwin, Brandon C., Joyce, Jillian M., Hsu, Wei-Wen


Background Military spouses must cope with multiple threats to their physical and mental health, yet few interventions have been developed to promote health in this population. Methods For this quasi-experimental study, military spouses (N = 231) received a standard educational intervention or an interactive, theory-based intervention; both were delivered online and lasted 10 weeks. The educational intervention directed participants to content on the existing website, Operation Live Well. The interactive intervention was based on Self-Determination Theory, delivered weekly content via podcasts, and encouraged participants to complete weekly challenges to improve physical activity, diet, and mental health. Linear mixed effects models were used to examine self-reported changes in stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-esteem, physical activity, and diet from pre- to post-intervention. Results Significant improvements were observed for all mental health outcomes, total physical activity, and sugar consumption. However, there were no significant group by time interaction effects. Conclusions Web-based interventions may promote positive changes in mental health and health behaviours among military spouses. In this study, an interactive theory-based intervention was no more effective than an information-based intervention. Future studies should aim to determine the minimum “dose” needed to elicit meaningful changes in this population.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

John Wiley & Sons

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Kansas State University, ELM
Kansas State University, BCI
Oklahoma State University, JMJ
Kansas State University, WWH


stress, military spouses, health promotion, online

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Center for Engagement and Community Development at Kansas State University

REACH Newsletter:

  May 2020

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