Smoking and drinking behaviors of military spouses: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Family Study

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Abstract

Introduction: The associations between stressful military experiences and tobacco use and alcohol misuse among Service members are well documented. However, little is known about whether stressful military experiences are associated with tobacco use and alcohol misuse among military spouses. Methods: Using 9872 Service member–spouse dyads enrolled in the Millennium Cohort Family Study, we employed logistic regression to estimate the odds of self-reported cigarette smoking, risky drinking, and problem drinking among spouses by Service member deployment status, communication regarding deployment, and stress associated with military-related experiences, while adjusting for demographic, mental health, military experiences, and Service member military characteristics. Results: Current cigarette smoking, risky drinking, and problem drinking were reported by 17.2%, 36.3%, and 7.3% of military spouses, respectively. Current deployment was not found to be associated with spousal smoking or drinking behaviors. Communication about deployment experiences with spouses was associated with lower odds of smoking, but not with risky or problem drinking. Spouses bothered by communicated deployment experiences and those who reported feeling very stressed by a combat-related deployment or duty assignment had consistently higher odds of both risky and problem drinking. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that contextual characteristics about the deployment experience, as well as the perceived stress of those experiences, may be more impactful than the simple fact of Service member deployment itself. These results suggest that considering the impact of deployment experiences on military spouses reveals important dimensions of military community adaptation and risk.

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Trone, D. W., Powell, T. M., Bauer, L. M., Seelig, A. D., Peterson, A. V., Littman, A. J., … Boyko, E. J. (2018). Smoking and drinking behaviors of military spouses: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Family Study. Addictive Behaviors, 77, 121–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.09.015

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