NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - About half of military personnel in a UK survey said their careers have had a negative impact on their children, according to a new study.
"Research to date on military children suggests that parental deployment affects children's well-being and functioning," said the senior author of the new report, professor Nicola Fear of King's Centre for Military Health Research at King's College London.
But the new study expands on existing evidence by considering the military career generally, not just deployment, and by measuring parents' perceptions, she told Reuters Health by email.
Between 2007 and 2009, researchers asked parents serving in the UK Army, Navy or Royal Air Force with children who were under age 18 if their service had a positive, negative or no impact on their children.
Of the 3,198 military parents in the survey, 51 percent perceived their career as being negative for their children, 20 percent perceived it as positive and 29 percent said it had no impact.
The survey also included questions about the parents' own childhood adversity, military rank, regular or reserve engagement, relationship status and number of children.
About 95 percent of the survey participants were men and 90 percent were married or in a long-term relationship.
Those with longer deployments, probable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental health disorders, and those not in a relationship were more likely to say their careers had a negative impact, according to the results published in Occupational Medicine.
Regular, non-commissioned officers who had been deployed for more than 13 months over the previous three years were more likely than reserves or those with shorter deployments to perceive a negative impact on their children.
"One thing that is contradictory to previous studies is that regular military families reported higher levels of problems than reserve military families," said Nansook Park, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who wasn't involved in the study.
"At least in the U.S., active-duty military families adjust better than reserve families," she told Reuters Health by email. "Often, there are more resources and supports available for an active-duty family than a reserve family who live among civilians."
Factors like parental divorce, mental health issues and long absences are all risk factors for children's healthy development, regardless of military status, she said.
Read the full article "Many UK military parents think their careers hurt their children" at The Baltimore Sun.