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Telephone Support During Overseas Deployment for Military Spouses

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Technical Report,01 Apr 2014,31 Mar 2015

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Research Inc. Memphis United States

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Deployment impacts both service member and family, and the cost can be high. Spouses reactions to deployment may include emotional distress, loneliness, anticipatory fear or grief, somatic complaints, and depression. The goal is to help spouses learn ways to manage stress and solve problems related to deployment and reintegration, communication, managing long distance relationships, and other common problems. The study compared telephone support groups to online education sessions for 161 spouses. In the Telephone Support groups, a group leader and participants 12 times over six months to focus on education, skills building and support. Education Only online sessions provided the same education content, without skills building or support. Content included strategies to reduce or eliminate communication difficulties, how to find help practical concerns fostering resilience and decreasing stress fostering relationships while apart, negotiating roles and relationships changes during deployment strategies to support the spouse and the service member and cues to alert spouses when to seek mental health services for the family or themselves. All participants significantly improved in resilience, depression, anxiety, and coping. There was no difference between arms in resilience or depression. Webinar participants significantly improved in anxiety and showed a trend toward improved coping. Both groups reported self-efficacy as a driver of benefit. For webinar participants, there was no effect for dosage. For support group participants, more sessions attended led to significantly improved anxiety, and trends toward improved resilience, depression, and coping.

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