Online Program

Loneliness and coping among adolescents with a deployed parent in the military

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Elizabeth A. Schilling, PhD, Institute for Public Health Research, Center for Public Health and Health Policy, University of Connecticut Health Center, East Hartford, CT
Robert H. Aseltine, PhD, Behavioral Sciences and Community Health, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Deployment of a military parent is an evolving stressor which involves extended separation from an important attachment figure, disruption of the family routine, and continuous uncertainty related to the threat of injury or death to the parent. For adolescents with a deployed parent, these multiple stressors pose a challenge to their coping skills. The current study investigated loneliness and coping in adolescents during three stages of parental deployment: (1) early in the active deployment phase, (2) middle to late in the active deployment phase, and (3) early in the post-deployment phase. Participants include middle and high school students (n=578) who participated in an evaluation of a suicide prevention program. They completed questionnaires at baseline and 3 months later which assessed current deployment status of the parent, loneliness, and 6 types of coping. Regressions indicate that, compared to students without a deployed parent, students with a deployed parent are more lonely is the early deployment phase and less lonely in the post-deployment phase. Four of six coping types were significantly related to loneliness at post-test (p < .05). Students who relied on active behavioral coping, positive reappraisal, and social support to handle their most difficult stressful situation in the previous 3 months reported less loneliness. Students who relied on avoidance reported more loneliness. Coping partially explained the isolating effect (more loneliness) of early deployment, but not the affiliating effect (less loneliness) of post-deployment integration.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the association between deployment phases, coping, and loneliness in adolescents List the phases of deployment. Name six types of coping.

Keyword(s): Adolescents, Coping

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a licensed clinical psychologist who has published articles on a variety of topics related to mental health in adolescents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.