Stressful experiences, coping strategies and predictors of health related outcomes among military spouses
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The purpose of this study was to identify the most stressful experiences of military spouses in the last five years, coping strategies used to deal with these experiences, and whether the coping strategies used were predictive of health-related outcomes. Spouses of soldiers (N=77) in the Army's 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood in Killeen, TX participated in the study. Results revealed that 85% of these spouses identified deployment of soldiers as the most stressful experience encountered, followed by relocation (11%), Sept. 11th (3%), and other (1%). Factor analysis identified 5 coping subscales used to address these stressful experiences: problem-focused, holding on, seeking social support, tension-reduction, and avoidance. Of these 5 subscales, an avoidant coping strategy (B = .46; p<.01) was predictive of greater physical symptoms of illness (R2=.14; p<.05). Further, avoidant coping strategies (B=.46; p<.01) were predictive of a greater number of depressive symptoms, whereas 'holding on' coping strategies (B=-.22; p<.05) were predictive of fewer depressive symptoms (R2=.25; p<.01). Implications for practice and future directions are discussed.