HEALTH / WELL-BEING

The impact of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan on military children: A review of the literature

Article

A review of literature published between 2003 and 2010 on the impact of paternal deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan on children. 9 United States based studies were identified based on the inclusion criteria. The studies reported higher levels of stress and more emotional and behavioural difficulties in military adolescents compared to children of non-deployed parents. This review indicates that children of deployed parents are at higher risk of psychosocial problems than their civilian counterparts, which may be due to multiple stressors that military children face including maternal psychopathology.

Abstract

The aim of this review is to evaluate what is known about the impact on children of parental deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. We searched for relevant studies with a minimum sample size of 50 which were published between 2003 and 2010 using Google Scholar, MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycINFO and Web of Science. Bibliographies of retrieved articles were also searched. Nine US-based studies were identified for inclusion in the review, five were cross-sectional, two were longitudinal and two were analyses of routinely collected data. Researchers found an increase in emotional and behavioral problems in children when a parent was deployed. Several mediating factors were identified, such as the family demographics and the number and duration of parental deployments. Parental psychopathology was most consistently identified as a risk factor for childhood emotional and behavioral disorders in the research. Limitations of the current research and subsequent recommendations for future research are also outlined.

Full Reference

White, C. J., de Burgh, H. T., Fear, N. T. and Iversen, A. C. (2011). The impact of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan on military children: A review of the literature. International Review of Psychiatry, 23, 210-217.