Researchers are seeking military families to participate in a new study to learn how deployments impact children.
“We’re trying to understand the impact of the deployment specifically, as opposed to just separation from a parent,” said Candice Alfano, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Houston. She serves as co-principal investigator for the three-year study.
Funded by a $2.7 million grant through the Defense Department’s Defense Health Program, the study is titled “When Parents Go to War: Psychosocial Adjustments Among the Families of Deployed Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
To look specifically at deployment, the study will examine 450 families from different backgrounds: military families of any service branch with a deployed parent; military families without a currently deployed parent; civilian families with only one parent at home due to separation or divorce; and civilian families with both parents or caregivers at home. Each family must have a child between ages 7 and 17.
In past research, children with a deployed parent have either been examined in isolation or compared exclusively to children from military families without a deployed parent, Alfano said. “In our study, we are examining two types of military families as well as two types of civilian families to better determine how military-related separations, specifically, impact children and families,” she said.
Professors Deborah C. Beidel at the University of Central Florida and Charmaine Higa-McMillan at the University of Hawaii at Hilo also are investigators on the study.
“We know (when parents deploy) that we see increases in fear and decreases in academic performance (among military children),” Beidel said during a presentation of the research in August. “But what is statistically significant and what is clinically significant? When is intervention necessary? No one says.”
Participating families will be interviewed, and biological measurements will be collected from the children, Alfano said.
Families will receive $100 for participating.
“We are recruiting the majority of military families from Fort Hood and San Antonio,” Alfano said. “If they are interested, we will find way for them to participate. We can come to them.”
For more information, call 713-743-3400 or go to www.uhmilitaryfamilies.org.