Association of military life experiences and health indicators among military spouses.
BACKGROUND: The health and well-being of military spouses directly contribute to a robust military force by enabling the spouse to better support the active duty member's career. In order to understand the overall health and well-being of military spouses, we assessed health indicators among military spouses using the Healthy People 2020 framework and examined associations of these health indicators with military experiences and psychosocial factors. METHODS: Using data from the Millennium Cohort Family Study, a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored survey of 9872 spouses of service members with 2-5 years of military service, we examined attainment of Healthy People 2020 goals for spouses and service members, including healthy weight, exercise, sleep, and alcohol and tobacco use. Multivariable logistic regression models assessed associations of spouse health indicators with stressful military life experiences and social support, adjusting for demographics and military descriptors. The spousal survey was administered nationwide in 2011. RESULTS: The majority of military spouses met each health goal assessed. However, less than half met the healthy weight and the strength training goals. Reporting greater perceived family support from the military was associated with better behavioral health outcomes, while having no one to turn to for support was associated with poorer outcomes. Using the Healthy People 2020 objectives as a framework for identifying key health behaviors and benchmarks, this study identified factors, including military-specific experiences, that may contribute to physical health behaviors and outcomes among military spouses. With respect to demographic characteristics, the findings are consistent with other literature that women are more likely to refrain from risky substance use and that greater education is associated with better overall health outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that enhanced social and military support and tailored programming for military spouses may improve health outcomes and contribute to the well-being of military couples. Such programming could also bolster force readiness and retention.
Corry, NH; Radakrishnan, S; Williams, CS; Sparks, AC; Woodall, KA; Fairbank, JA; Stander, VA
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