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Relationships between soldiers' PTSD symptoms and spousal communication during deployment


  • Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a grant from The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to Scott Stanley, Howard Markman, and Elizabeth Allen (R01HD048780). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIH or NICHD.


Social support, including support from spouses, may buffer against posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The current study assessed whether the frequency of spousal communication during a recent deployment, a potentially important source of support for soldiers, was related to postdeployment PTSD symptoms. Data came from 193 married male Army soldiers who returned from military deployment within the past year. For communication modalities conceptualized as delayed (i.e., letters, care packages, and e-mails), greater spousal communication frequency during deployment was associated with lower postdeployment PTSD symptom scores, but only at higher levels of marital satisfaction (p = .009). At lower marital satisfaction, more delayed spousal communication during deployment was associated with more PTSD symptoms (p = .042). For communication modalities conceptualized as interactive (i.e., phone calls, instant messaging, instant messaging with video), the same general direction of effects was seen, but the interaction between communication frequency and marital satisfaction predicting PTSD symptoms did not reach significance.

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