Research Articles

Mental Health Among Children Living with Veterans: A Literature Mapping



Introduction: Many deployed soldiers have children who may be affected by the parent’s absence. Extensive studies on child mental health during deployment exist. Few focus on the reintegration period which can be challenging if the veteran suffers from physical or mental post-deployment effects. To gain knowledge on child consequences of living with a veteran parent and identify strategies/interventions that may relieve strain the first step is to characterize existing publications/research.

Aim: To identify, report main findings, and characterize contemporary scientific publications on mental health among children living with a veteran parent.

Method: Literature search (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and SocINDEX) and systematic mapping of mental health among children living with veterans after deployment (published 1990–2015). Inclusion criteria: Iraq, Balkan, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, or Libya deployments; child mental health outcome; peer-reviewed primary research from NATO/NATO-associated countries. Languages: English, German, or Scandinavian. Literature was coded after veteran post-deployment effects, deployment country, study nationality, publication type/methods, observational vs. experimental study, study design, and outcome categories. Mental health was divided into internalizing, externalizing, ADHD symptoms, secondary traumatization, and other mental health outcomes.

Results: Publications included (n = 16) were mainly American reporting on children living with veteran parents deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan. A minority reported on post-deployment effects and focused solely on psychological injuries. Child internalization and externalization were the most frequent mental health outcomes addressed. Publications predominantly reported on quantitative longitudinal or cross-sectional study designs.

Conclusion: This mapping suggests a need for high-quality publications based on European and Scandinavian samples, reports of post-deployment effects, and experimental studies.


Childrenmental healthmilitary familypost-deployment effectssystematic mappingveterans
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 122–147
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.8
  • Submitted on 10 Aug 2018
  • Accepted on 23 Apr 2019
  • Published on 5 Sep 2019
  • Peer Reviewed