Family-centered prevention services for civilian dwelling military (CDM) families and children are rarely available in civilian communities or are often framed around mental disorders and family deficits. As of June 2010, over one million military service members from Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn have become veterans. The potentially negative impact of wartime on veterans is well documented. Furthermore, wartime deployments can adversely impact the psychological health of children as well as marital relationships, parent-child relationships and overall family functioning. Although young children in CDM families may never have to cope with another parental deployment, their families may continue to struggle with the lasting effects of wartime deployment that cannot be ameliorated by singularly treating the service member. There is a need for family-centered preventive interventions that effectively build resilience and mitigate war deployment-related family difficulties, especially given the potential adverse emotional and developmental impact of deployment separations and reintegration stress on young children and their parents. To address this need, this study proposes to test the efficacy of FOCUS-EC (Families OverComing Under Stress for Early Childhood), an established strength-based, family-centered preventive intervention that is culturally sensitive and socially accepted by active duty military communities and has promising program evaluation data. A randomized control trial (RCT) will be conducted with 200 CDM families with young children, ages three to five years, recruited from Los Angeles and surrounding counties (200 veterans, 150 spouses, and 300 children). CDM families will be randomized to the FOCUS-EC intervention condition (n = 100 families;100 veterans, 75 spouses, 150 children) or web-based educational materials condition (n = 100 families;100 veterans, 75 spouses, and 150 children) and assessed at baseline, three, six, and 12 months. It is hypothesized that in the FOCUS-EC condition: 1) children will exhibit more positive social-emotional and behavioral outcomes and developmental competencies than children in the comparison condition, and 2) families will exhibit more positive family environment, improved parenting, enhanced parent-child relationships, and fewer parent psychological health problems than families in the comparison condition. Additionally, we aim to explore potential moderating effects of child health/development risk, military and deployment/separation history, exposure to combat/trauma during deployment, and veteran and spouse/partner background factors.

Public Health Relevance

Wartime deployments can compromise the psychological health of children, as well as marital relationships, parent-child relationships and overall family functioning in civilian dwelling military (CDM) families. However, family-centered prevention services for CDM families and children are rarely available in civilian communities or are often framed around mental disorders and family deficits. There is an urgent public health need for community-based, family-centered interventions that effectively build resilience and mitigate war deployment-related family difficulties especially given the potential adverse impact of deployment separations and reintegration stress on young children and their parents.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01HD072324-01A1
Application #
8439894
Study Section
Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
Program Officer
Maholmes, Valerie
Project Start
2013-06-15
Project End
2018-05-31
Budget Start
2013-06-15
Budget End
2014-05-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$450,385
Indirect Cost
$157,927
Name
University of California Los Angeles
Department
None
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
092530369
City
Los Angeles
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
90095
Beardslee, William R; Klosinski, Lee E; Saltzman, William et al. (2013) Dissemination of family-centered prevention for military and veteran families: adaptations and adoption within community and military systems of care. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 16:394-409
Lester, Patricia; Paley, Blair; Saltzman, William (2013) Military service, war, and families: considerations for child development, prevention and intervention, and public health policy. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 16:229-32