Baylor University Research Team Receives $350,000 Grant to Fund Second Phase of Military Family Coping Research Project

Feb. 17, 2012

Researchers hope to find effective ways to help Soldiers and families cope before, during and after deployment

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Media contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (Feb. 17, 2012) - Soldiers facing deployment to Afghanistan -- or any country in conflict -- enter a time of extreme ongoing stress: the strain of preparing to leave home for deployment, the pressure of last-minute preparations and the anticipation of being deployed to a warzone and leaving family behind. But the Soldier isn't the only person affected. His or her family also is impacted, and the stress level felt by these family members can reduce or increase the anxiety experienced by the Soldier.

An interdisciplinary team of Baylor University faculty, hosted and guided by the Baylor School of Social Work, has received a one-year grant of $350,000 to fund Phase II of the Military Family Coping Project, a collaborative research effort to study pre-deployment stress among Soldiers, their spouses and parents. The research is supported by the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC).

"Soldiers deploy for a limited time at the call from the United States, but some will come home having experienced untold stresses that will remain with them for a lifetime. The more that is known about these stresses, the better we can prepare Soldiers for what they will be facing," said principal investigator James W. Ellor, Ph.D., D.Min., professor of social work at Baylor. "With this funding, we are able to continue the research on this significant subject, which will help us to understand the impact of deployment preparation on Soldiers and their family members."

Phase I of the Military Family Coping Project used focus groups of Soldiers, their spouses and parents to inform the larger-scale Phase II study, which will survey Soldiers - who are about to deploy to Afghanistan and other countries - and their family members.

The Phase II study will focus on 500 Soldiers from Fort Hood, 175 spouses and 175 parents, who will complete research questionnaires. Soldiers who volunteer to fill out research questionnaires will then be asked to invite their spouses and/or parents to complete the questionnaires. In this way, researchers will be able to evaluate and connect the experiences of all three groups. Future research will aim to determine how deployment preparation experiences subsequently impact functioning during and after deployments.

Along with Ellor, the research team includes co-principal investigator Sandra B. Morissette, Ph.D., of the Veterans Affairs VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans and Texas A&M Health Science Center. Co-site principal investigators are Lt. Col. (Ret) Sharon Reese, DrPH, RN, and Janice Whitacre, Ph.D., Acudetox Director, Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, based at Fort Hood. Reese will serve as project manager.

Also from Baylor are co-investigators Dennis R. Myers, Ph.D., The Dorothy Barfield Kronzer Endowed Professor in Family Studies at the Baylor School of Social Work; Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience, and Keith P. Sanford, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, Baylor College of Arts & Sciences; and Janet R. Crow, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Suzy H. Weems, Ph.D., chair and professor of family and consumer sciences, Baylor College of Arts & Sciences.

The team will be assisted by three Baylor social work graduate students: Tara Hixson, Celia Feller and Heidi Rathbun-McVeigh, who will be involved in the data collection and analysis process.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About the Baylor School of Social Work

The Baylor University School of Social Work is home to one of the leading graduate social work programs in the nation with a research agenda focused on the integration of faith and practice. Upholding its mission of preparing social workers in a Christian context for worldwide service and leadership, the School offers a baccalaureate degree (BSW), a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and two joint-degree options (MSW/Master of Divinity and MSW/Master of Theological Studies) through a partnership with Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Visit www.baylor.edu/social_work to learn more.

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