Soldiers' Families

Tracking Their Well-Being During Peacetime and War

by Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Peter A. Morrison

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This Note presents a proposal for how to query a representative sample of Army families and obtain timely information on topics that change quickly. Accommodating the Army's growing need for timely information (as exemplified by Operations Desert Shield and Storm) requires a flexible survey plan that can be tailored to a broad spectrum of unforeseeable circumstances in peacetime and wartime contingencies. The study's proposed plan relies on an ongoing panel of families who are recontacted periodically by telephone (to confirm location) and are available for repeated computer-assisted telephone interviewing. The sample is designed so data gathered can be generalized to all Army families and achieves timeliness by narrowing at will the elapsed time from when the policymaker poses a question to the point when the survey delivers a generalizable answer. The plan's feasibility is enhanced because lines of communication are maintained (thus enabling "minisurveys"), workload can be varied to meet needs according to urgency, and postwar surveys can be mounted swiftly given the existing and continuously recontacted sample.

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