Associations of military divorce with mental, behavioral, and physical health outcomes

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Abstract

Background: Divorce has been linked with poor physical and mental health outcomes among civilians. Given the unique stressors experienced by U.S. service members, including lengthy and/or multiple deployments, this study aimed to examine the associations of recent divorce on health and military outcomes among a cohort of U.S. service members. Methods: Millennium Cohort participants from the first enrollment panel, married at baseline (2001-2003), and married or divorced at follow-up (2004-2006), (N = 29,314). Those divorced were compared to those who remained married for mental, behavioral, physical health, and military outcomes using logistic regression models. Results: Compared to those who remained married, recently divorced participants were significantly more likely to screen positive for new-onset posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, smoking initiation, binge drinking, alcohol-related problems, and experience moderate weight gain. However, they were also more likely be in the highest 15th percentile of physical functioning, and be able to deploy within the subsequent 3-year period after divorce. Conclusions: Recent divorce among military members was associated with adverse mental health outcomes and risky behaviors, but was also associated with higher odds of subsequent deployment. Attention should be given to those recently divorced regarding mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention strategies.

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Wang, L., Seelig, A., Wadsworth, S. M. D., McMaster, H., Alcaraz, J. E., & Crum-Cianflone, N. F. (2015). Associations of military divorce with mental, behavioral, and physical health outcomes. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-015-0517-7

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