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Positive and negative family communication and mental distress: Married service members during a non-combat deployment

APA Citation:

Sullivan, K., Park, Y., Kale, C. N., Adler, A., Sipos, M. L., & Riviere, L. A. (2023). Positive and negative family communication and mental distress: Married service members during a non-combat deployment. Family Process. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12874

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined how the frequency of Service members’ communication with their family members was related to their mental distress while on a noncombat deployment. Analyses also examined whether Service members’ positive and negative perceptions of family communication, as well as their marital satisfaction, altered the relationship between communication frequency and mental distress. During their deployment, 382 Service members completed surveys on how frequently they communicated with family, their mental distress (i.e., anxiety and depression), perceptions of communication, and marital satisfaction. Generally, Service members who reported more frequent communication with their family tended to report higher levels of mental distress, and this distress was exacerbated when communication was viewed more negatively.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member


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


Cross sectional study
Longitudinal Study


Sullivan, Kathrine, Park, Yangjin, Kale, Caroline N., Adler, Amy, Sipos, Maurice L., Riviere, Lyndon A.


This study examines whether married service member perceptions of positive or negative communication moderate the relationship between how frequently they communicate home during a deployment and their mental distress. Participants included 382 married service members who completed surveys regarding their marital relationships, communication, and mental health while on a non-combat deployment. Though marital satisfaction was not significantly associated with service member reports of their mental distress, perceptions of negative (

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


communication, couples, deployment, mental distress, service members

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  August 2023

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