Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Sarah Kye Price

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Farmer

Third Advisor

Melissa Abell

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Manuel

Fifth Advisor

Ananda Amstadter


During an era when the United States has been engaged in the longest waging wars in U.S. history, military families have been exposed to extraordinary amounts of stress and have had to learn to adapt in a culture where repeated deployments, recurrent family separations, and frequent relocations have become the norm. A surge in research in recent years on the families of Service members has brought increased attention to the unique challenges and demands of spouses, raising concerns about how to best meet their needs. Despite the increased attention, few studies have focused on spousal well-being. Acknowledging this lack of research, the present dissertation study utilized a mixed-methods approach to explore various dimensions of well-being, as directly experienced by spouses of active-duty military personnel.

Data was collected from a web-based survey completed by 300 spouses of active-duty Service members. Quantitative data included a wide range of demographic, family, military lifestyle, and service utilization questions along with a battery of standardized instruments measuring various risk and protective factors, which represent components of well-being. Qualitative data were collected from four open-ended questions and analyzed thematically. Qualitative and quantitative components were corroborated in the final analysis.

Results of the study found significant differences in well-being scores among subsamples of participants divided by employment status, race, and Service member rank. However, subsamples divided on the basis of having children, education level, and Service member combat deployment history did not result in significantly different well-being scores. Separate hierarchical regression analyses were performed on the outcome scores for each component of well-being (social, mental, and physical). The findings revealed that selected risk & protective factor variables were significant predictors within each model. On the other hand, socio-demographic characteristics only added to the predictive power of outcomes scores in the mental component of well-being. Qualitative findings included data on participants’ perspectives of the rewards and challenges of military life, the impact of the military lifestyle on parenting experiences, and advice to spouses new to the military lifestyle.

Implications and limitations of this study, as well as suggestions for future research to enhance the well-being of military spouses, are discussed.


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