This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Examining Well-Being Indicators of Adolescents in Military and Civilian Families: A Comparison Study




Mahle, Charlsey

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


Using data from a statewide education project for adolescent youth (N=2,430), this study explored the well-being indicators of coping, depressive symptoms and self-esteem in military and civilian youth. While the majority of prior research in this area has focused on the military only, this study compared outcomes of military youth who have experienced the deployment of a parent to those who have not and a civilian group of adolescents. Findings show evidence that military families have similar outcomes to that of youth in the surrounding civilian community. The results showed that the military adolescents (deployed or not deployed) did not differ significantly on two out of three measures of Coping, Depressive Symptoms or Self-Esteem. Examinations of demographics revealed no significant interactions between family type (military/nonmilitary) and gender, race, and parent marital status. However, there was a main effect found for gender on Depressive Symptoms such that males report lower Depressive Symptoms than females, and also for gender on Coping such that females reported higher coping than males. There was a main effect present for ethnicity on Self-Esteem such that African Americans report higher self-esteem than all other races. A main effect of parent marital status was found on reports of Depressive Symptoms in the three groups, such that adolescents in married families reported lower levels of depressive symptoms than adolescents in stepparent families and adolescents in single parent families; however, there were no significant differences between reports of depressive symptoms in step and single parent families. The findings of this study have important implications for the similarities between the current population of youth in military, particularly those that are community-based, and civilian youth. It also demonstrates that demographic factors are influential in similar ways on outcomes of adolescents in both military and civilian communities.