Strong Families Strong Forces: Preliminary Efficacy Outcomes From a Randomized Clinical Trial of a Home-Based Intervention for Military Families
Methods: This three-phase project employed a community-based participatory approach to conduct a qualitative needs assessment (N=85 individual interviews with service member and at home parents), a feasibility study (N=9 completers), and a randomized clinical trial (SFSF vs. Waitlist Control; N=115 enrolled). Self-report measures of mental health symptoms, parenting stress, parenting competence, child functioning, relationship satisfaction were completed by all adult participants at pretest, posttest, and 3-month follow up. All parent mental health outcomes (e.g., posttraumatic stress, anxiety) were analyzed using ANCOVA with baseline scores as covariates.
Results: The majority of the study sample was National Guard/Reserve component (98.3%). At baseline, approximately 11.8% of service members met criteria for DSM-IV PTSD. Employing criteria revised by Bliese and colleagues (2008), approximately 37% of the sample met criteria for probably PTSD diagnosis, with no between-group differences at baseline on any measures. Significant differences between treatment and comparison groups on measures of service member mental health were revealed at posttest, with moderate effect sizes (PTSD: f=8.6, p=.001, η2 =.08; anxiety: f=9.1, p=.00, η2=.09).
Conclusion: Universal preventive interventions that are relationship-focused, military-specific and incorporate the family ecology may be viable mechanisms to reduce service member parent mental health symptoms during the reintegration phase of the deployment cycle. In addition, the home-based service delivery modality appears to be an effective way to engage military populations. Future directions and next steps, including effectiveness research, scalability, and adaptations for other populations, will also be discussed.