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Family Stressors and Resources: Relationships with Depressive Symptoms in Military Couples During Pre‐Deployment

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Family Relations / Family Relations Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies

Published online on


Objective To evaluate family‐related stressors and resources associated with the depressive symptoms of military members and their spouses. Background Most deployment‐related research has focused on deployment and reintegration, but there is a dearth of information about military families during the pre‐deployment phase. Family stress theory provided a valuable lens from which to view family‐related risk and protective factors associated with adaptation during times of stressful transition. Method Data were gathered using an online survey from 151 U.S. Army National Guard members and their spouses preparing for a scheduled deployment. Hierarchical regression was utilized to examine associations between the independent variables (e.g., stress pileup, informal and formal resources, deployment preparation) and participants' depressive symptoms. Results Results revealed that aspects of stress pileup were positively associated with depressive symptoms. Informal resources and deployment preparation, but not formal resources, had statistically significant negative associations with individuals' depressive symptoms. Findings were similar for military members and spouses. Conclusion Results indicated that logistical and instrumental preparation, in addition to informal resources such as effective family functioning and social support, are important for positive adaptation in times of stressful transition. Implications Family service professionals may want to assist families with identifying and strengthening their family support and improving family functioning, as well as guide families in a process of identifying the instrumental and logistical tasks that are necessary or helpful for an impending transition.