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Family functioning differences across the deployment cycle in British Army families: the perceptions of wives and children

Pye, R. E. and Simpson, L. K. (2017) Family functioning differences across the deployment cycle in British Army families: the perceptions of wives and children. Military Medicine, 182 (9). e1856-e1863. ISSN 1930-613X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.7205/MILMED-D-16-00317


Introduction Military deployment can have an adverse effect on a soldier’s family, though little research has looked at these effects in a British sample. We investigated wives’ of UK serving soldiers perceptions of marital and family functioning, across three stages of the deployment cycle: currently deployed, post-deployment and pre-deployed, plus a non-military comparison group. Uniquely, young (aged 3.5 – 11 years) children’s perceptions of their family were also investigated, using the Parent-Child Alliance (PCA) coding scheme of drawings of the family. Materials and Methods Two hundred and twenty British military families of regular service personnel from the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps (RAC), were sent survey packs distributed with a monthly welfare office newsletter. Wives were asked to complete a series of self-report items, and the youngest child in the family between the ages of 3.5 and 11 years was asked to draw a picture of their family. Complete data were available for 78 military families, and an additional 34 non-military families were recruited via opportunity sampling. Results Results indicated wives of currently deployed and recently returned personnel were less satisfied with their family and its communication, and children’s pictures indicated higher levels of dysfunctional PCA, whilst pre-deployed families responded similarly to non-military families. Marital satisfaction was similar across all groups except pre-deployed families who were significantly more satisfied. Non-military and pre-deployed families showed balanced family functioning, and currently and recently deployed families demonstrated poor family functioning. In comparison to non-military families, pre-deployed families showed a large ‘spike’ in the rigidity subscale of the FACES IV. Conclusion Wives’ perceptions of family functioning, but not marital satisfaction, differed between the deployment groups. The results from the coded children’s drawings correlated with the self-report measures from the wife/mother, indicating that children’s drawings could be a useful approach when working with younger children in this area. It is tentatively suggested that the differences across deployment stage on family functioning could be mediated not only by communication difficulties between deployed personnel and their families, but also by its effect on the children in the family. Larger-scale longitudinal research is needed to investigate this further.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:70149


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