Family relational health, psychological resources, and health behaviors: A dyadic study of military couples

Catherine Walker O’Neal, Mallory Lucier-Greer, Jay A. Mancini, Anthony J. Ferraro, D. Bruce Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In addition to facing stressors that are typical of life course development (e.g., marital struggles, balancing work/family demands), military families face additional stress attributed to their military context (e.g., deployments, relocations). Using a systems framework and stress process perspective, this study examined military couples’ relational health, as a gauge for how couples collectively cope and address challenges as a united front and how their relational health influences crucial health behaviors (sleeping and eating) through the promotion or erosion of psychological resources (N = 236 couples). This study evaluated a latent variable structural equation dyadic model whereby each partner’s perspective of their family’s relational health was hypothesized to influence their own eating and sleeping behaviors (actor effects), as well as the eating and sleeping behaviors of their spouse (partner effects). The role of psychological resources (high self-efficacy, few depressive symptoms, and minimal anxiety) as a mechanism linking family functioning to health behaviors was also examined. Overall, the findings supported the hypothesized model, particularly for actor (intraindividual) effects. Discussion is provided pertinent to service providers and researchers, including the importance of improving, or maintaining, family relational health, as a means for encouraging positive health behaviors among active duty military members and their spouses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-160
Number of pages9
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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