(334) 844-3299
Detailed Record
Share this Article

Generalized anxiety and relational uncertainty as predictors of topic avoidance during reintegration following military deployment

APA Citation:

Knobloch, L. K., Ebata, A. T., McGlaughlin, P. C., & Theiss, J. A. (2013). Generalized anxiety and relational uncertainty as predictors of topic avoidance during reintegration following military deployment. Communication Monographs, 80(4), 452-477. doi:10.1080/03637751.2013.828159

Abstract Created by REACH:

Service members and their romantic partners often encounter communication problems after deployment. In one study, 220 returning Service members talked about their topic avoidance (i.e., topics that they avoided talking about) with their partner after deployment. In a second study, 118 military couples answered questions regarding their symptoms of generalized anxiety, relational uncertainty (i.e., having questions about the status of a relationship), and topic avoidance. Results revealed eight avoided topics and indicated an association between anxiety, relational uncertainty, and topic avoidance.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran


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


Empirical Study
Longitudinal Study
Quantitative Study


Knobloch, Leanne K., Ebata, Aaron T., McGlaughlin, Patricia C., Theiss, Jennifer A.


For military couples reunited following deployment, discussing or avoiding topics is a central dimension of communication. This paper theorizes about two predictors of topic avoidance that arise from a lack of confidence in social situations: generalized anxiety and relational uncertainty. In Study 1, 220 returning service members described issues they avoid discussing upon reunion. Content analytic findings indicated eight avoided topics. In Study 2, 118 military couples reported on topic avoidance for the first 3 months after homecoming. Multilevel modeling results revealed that the generalized anxiety and relational uncertainty of actors, but not partners, were consistent predictors of topic avoidance. The findings illuminate the complexities of communicating following a tour of duty.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Communication, University of Illinois, LKK
Department of Human and Community Development, University of Illinois, ATE
University of Illinois, PCM
Department of Communication, Rutgers University, JAT


generalized anxiety, military couples, relational uncertainty, topic avoidance

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


University of Illinois, Family Resiliency Center, US

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