Mental Health Outcomes Associated with Risk and Resilience among Military-Connected Youth

Kathrine S. Sullivan, Stacy Ann Hawkins, Tamika D. Gilreath, Carl A. Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study aimed to describe patterns of risk and protective factors affecting U.S. Army families and their association with mental health diagnoses among military-connected children. Wartime military service is associated with increased adverse outcomes for military-connected youth, but few studies have explored the impact of concurrent risk and access to protective factors. Using big data methods to link existing datasets, protective factors (e.g., marital and family functioning) were drawn from a voluntary survey completed by 1,630 US Army spouses. Risk factors (e.g., parent mental health, family moves, deployment) were drawn from Department of Defense (DoD) archival data. Rates of mental health diagnoses among youth were derived from DoD healthcare records. Using the three-step method of latent profile analysis, five profiles emerged with variability across risk and protective factors. The largest group (40% of the sample) had considerable protective factors and limited risk exposure. Statistically significant differences in the prevalence of mental health diagnoses among military-connected youth were observed across profiles (χ2 = 30.067, df = 4, p <.001), with the highest rates (31.1% and 30.5%) observed in the two profiles with the lowest protective factors. Findings suggest most military families are faring well and highlight the importance of a thorough assessment that evaluates both the stressors military families face and the strengths they possess.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-522
Number of pages16
JournalFamily Process
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Latent Profile Analysis
  • Mental Health
  • Military Families

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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