Thomas E. Trail

Thomas E. Trail
Senior Behavioral Scientist; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School


Ph.D. in social psychology, Princeton University; B.S. in psychology, Virginia Tech


Thomas E. Trail is a senior behavioral scientist at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Trail's research focuses on how stress affects relationship processes and health outcomes among military and civilian couples and the effectiveness of programs in mitigating family stress. Current research projects he is leading include the Today's Army Spouse Panel, a survey panel assessing the needs of Army spouses and their families and whether those needs are being met by Army and civilian services; a qualitative study examining the experience of food insecurity among military service members and their families; and an evaluation of the long-term outcomes of the MyCAA spouse employment program. Other recent research includes an evaluation of the effectiveness of online peer support communities for decreasing social isolation and loneliness among caregivers for ill or wounded veterans, and designing and evaluating a web-based intervention to help spouses concerned about their service member's alcohol use. Prior to joining RAND, Trail was a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton University and his M.S. in applied/experimental psychology from Virginia Tech.

Selected Publications

Trail, T. E., Friedman, E., Rutter, C. M., & Tanielian, T., "The relationship between engagement in online support groups and social isolation among military caregivers: Longitudinal questionnaire study," Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(4), 2020

Trail, T. E., Osilla, K. C., Rodriguez, L. M., Pedersen, E. R., & Gore, K. L., "Exploring the association between changes in partner behaviors, perceived service member drinking, and relationship quality: Secondary analysis of a web-based intervention for military partners," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 98, 2019

Trail, T. E., Martin, L. T., Burgette, L. F., Warren May, L., Mahmud, A., Nanda, N., & Chandra, A., An Evaluation of U.S. Military Non-Medical Counseling Programs, RAND Corp. (RR-1861), 2017

Karney, B. R. & Trail, T. E., "Associations between prior deployments and marital satisfaction among Army couples," Journal of Marriage and Family, 79, 2017

Trail, T. E., Meadows, S. O., Miles, J. N. V., & Karney, B. R., "Patterns of vulnerabilities and resources in U.S. military families," Journal of Family Issues, 2015

Trail, T. E., Goff, P. A., Bradbury, T. N., & Karney, B. R., "The costs of racism for marriage: How racial discrimination hurts, and ethnic identity protects, newlywed marriages among Latinos," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 2012

Trail, T. E. & Karney, B. R., "What’s (not) wrong with low-income marriages," Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 2012

Trail, T. E., Shelton, J. N., & West, T. V., "Daily interracial interactions and interpersonal behaviors," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 2009


  • Military Families

    The Impact of Deployments on Military Marriages

    The evidence linking combat deployments directly to poorer marital functioning has been sparse and contradictory. Although marital satisfaction among military couples declined from 2003 to 2009, the divorce rate among them remained steady.

    Sep 2, 2016

    Family Studies