When Parents Go to War
Psychology Professor Deborah C. Beidel and her graduate student Brian Bunnell were recently awarded a $2.7 million dollar research grant for a project entitled “When parents go to war,” which will be funded by the Department of Defense Broad Army Agency.
This three year, multi-site investigation will examine the effects of deployment on children and stay-behind spouses, and will include neurobiological and physiological measures of stress, as well as assessment of social and emotional functioning.
This study will examine the effects of deployment upon children and non-deployed spouses using biological and psychological measures of stress, diagnostic evaluation, and assessment of family, social and academic functioning using on a carefully-controlled design.
Should we find the presence of significant stress and functional impairment, we will develop an early intervention/prevention program based on the problems identified. Specific Aims: This proposal has three specific aims: (1) To compare psychological symptoms, stressful behaviors and functional impairment among children of deployed parents, children of non-deployed parents, divorced/separated parents and two parent families (normal controls) using a well-controlled design and appropriate assessment. (2) To compare parental psychological stress and parenting stress these same four groups. (3) To determine if parental emotional stress/distress, psychological symptoms and perceptions of stressful parenting predicts the child’s objective and subjective response to stress.
Study Design: This three site study will use a four-group, multimodal assessment of biological and psychological indicators of stress and psychopathology. Outcome measures will include self- and parent-reported stress, cortisol levels, and sleep quality (via sleep actigraphy). Uniquely, this study will compare four groups including children of a deployed parent (n=112), children of a non-deployed parent (112), children of non-military divorced/separated parents (n=112), and children of civilian intact families (n=112) in order to experimentally isolate the effects of military deployment, rather than those of separation from a parent.