Study Design

To identify the characteristics of those families who manage the challenges of deployment successfully as well as characteristics of families who find the experience more difficult, the Deployment Life Study explores the experiences of military families across all stages of the deployment cycle. Key features of the study included:

  • A baseline phone interview with service members, their spouse, and one child (if eligible)
  • Follow-up surveys administered online or by phone every 4 months
  • A total of 9 waves of data collection over 3 years (7 waves for Navy)
  • Data was collected prior to, during and following the service members' deployment
  • With rolling enrollment, data collection began in the spring of 2011 and ended in the spring of 2015

Study Population

The study population consisted of households of married service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines (active, guard and reserve components) who were expected to deploy within 6 to 12 months after study recruitment. Household respondents included the service member, his or her spouse and, if there was one in the household, a child between the ages of 11 and 17 at the time of recruitment.

Sample Design and Characteristics

The study collected baseline data from Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine families. At that time, to be eligible for the study, service members must have been:

  • Living in the U.S.
  • Married and living with the spouse
  • Anticipating deployment within 6 to 12 months of entering the study

The sample included service members who had deployed previously as well as those who were anticipating their first deployment. Both enlisted men and women and officers were included in the survey. Female service members were oversampled.

Survey Content

The Deployment Life Study instruments were designed to identify the antecedents, correlates and consequences of family readiness across the deployment cycle. The study identifies those skills and tools that are most important to meeting the challenges of military life and of deployment in particular. Outcomes of particular interest include:

  • Emotional, behavioral, and physical health of family members,
  • Quality of marital and parental relationships,
  • Child outcomes (e.g. school performance, social development),
  • Military career outcomes (e.g., attitudes toward military service, retention intentions)
  • Financial well-being