Children of military parents who have been deployed tend to have more clinician visits for mental health and child maltreatment issues than children of military parents who are not deployed.
Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, PhD, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues examined health care utilization of more than 487,000 children between the ages of 3 and 8. The researchers looked at the rate of post-deployment mental health, injury and child maltreatment visits of children whose parents did not deploy, those whose parents deployed and returned uninjured, and children whose parents deployed and returned injured.
Children of deployed parents had considerably more mental health and child maltreatment consultations compared with children whose parents had not been deployed, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In addition, the rates tended to be even higher in children whose parents were deployed and injured than in those deployed but unhurt.
The results indicate deployment-related risk to children continues after deployment, and that risk increases, especially when parents return injured.
The researchers say that increased awareness of the impact of parental deployment and combat injury will help mental health providers in effectively identifying children at risk and providing needed resources.
Hisle-Gorman E, et al. Impact of Parents’ Wartime Military Deployment and Injury on Young Children’s Safety and Mental Health. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015; 54(4):294-301.