McFadden: I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends: The Buffering Effects Of Unit-Level Moderators On The Combat Exposure-Mental Health Relationship

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends: The Buffering Effects Of Unit-Level Moderators On The Combat Exposure-Mental Health Relationship
Monday, July 15th at 9:30am
Brackett 414

Committee: Dr. Thomas Britt (chair), Dr. Robert Sinclair, and Dr. Heidi Zinzow

Abstract: Combat exposure has been linked to various negative outcomes, both physical (e.g., severed limbs, decreased health behaviors, mild traumatic brain injury) and mental (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression, anxiety, substance abuse). Additionally, the military is limited in the ways in which it can protect service members from experiencing negative outcomes of war. The present study examined how the unit-level variables of perceived organizational support, job self-efficacy, and unit morale moderate the relationship between combat exposure and (a) depression and (b) anxiety within the framework of the Soldier Adaptation Model. Soldiers who had previously deployed to Iraq for 15 months were surveyed at two time points (4 months and 10 months following return from deployment). The hypothesized cross-level buffering effects of unit-level perceived organizational support, job self-efficacy, and unit morale were not supported in the current study. However, significant relationships were found with the Time 1 data. A within-level buffering effect of perceived organizational support on the relationship between combat exposure and (a) depression and (b) anxiety outcomes was observed. Additionally, a contextual main effect of unit-level perceived organizational support, job self-efficacy, and unit morale was found such that soldiers in units higher in each variable reported fewer (a) depression and (b) anxiety symptoms. Implications and limitations of the current study are discussed.

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