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Postdeployment mental health concerns and family functioning in veteran men and women

APA Citation:

Zelkowitz, R. L., Archibald, E. A., Gradus, J. L., & Street, A. E. (2022). Postdeployment mental health concerns and family functioning in veteran men and women. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0001237

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined whether the impact of postdeployment mental health on family functioning differs between Veteran men and Veteran women. 2,348 previously deployed Veterans completed questionnaires on postdeployment mental health concerns (i.e., posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms, depressive symptoms, problematic alcohol use), relationship satisfaction, parenting selfefficacy (i.e., confidence in parenting abilities), and demographic factors (e.g., age, education, number of children). Although there were more similarities than differences between Veteran men and Veteran women, postdeployment mental health challenges may undermine parenting self-efficacy more for Veteran mothers than Veteran fathers.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Aged (65 yrs & older)


Quantitative study


Zelkowitz, Rachel L., Archibald, Emma A., Gradus, Jaimie L., Street, Amy E.


Objective: Despite growing numbers of veteran women, it is unclear whether the impact of common postdeployment mental health concerns on key aspects of family functioning varies by gender. We examined whether associations between PTSD, depression, and problematic alcohol use and intimate relationship quality and parenting self-efficacy differed among men and women in a large, gender-balanced sample of post-9/11 veterans. Method: Participants included 2,348 veterans (51.49% women) of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were part of a larger study of gender differences in effects of wartime deployment. Veterans who were married or in a relationship (n = 1,536, 49.09% women) reported overall relationship quality. Veterans with children under age 18 (n = 1,049; 51.57% women) self-reported on their sense of efficacy as parents. All participants reported symptoms of PTSD, depression, and problematic alcohol use. We used a series of hierarchical linear regressions to test gender as a moderator of each postdeployment mental health concern and the family functioning constructs of interest. Results: Each postdeployment mental health concern was associated with reduced relationship quality and parenting self-efficacy, and these associations were largely consistent across gender. However, links between reduced parenting self-efficacy and increased PTSD and depressive symptoms were stronger in women compared with men. Conclusions: Postdeployment mental health concerns are associated with impairment in key family relationships for both veteran men and women. This impact may be particularly profound for parenting self-efficacy among female veterans, highlighting the potential importance of targeted interventions in this domain. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

American Psychological Association

Publication Type:


Author Affiliation:

Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, RLZ
Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, EAA
Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, JLG
Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, AES


postdeployment, mental health, family functioning, veteran, relationship quality

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  June 2022

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