Examining Chronic Stress in Spouses of Active Duty Military Members
Even in the absence of wartime stressors, the military lifestyle is characterized by frequent challenges that affect not only the military member, but also his or her spouse and children. Due to frequent relocations and deployments, military spouses are often relied upon to become the primary child-rearers, make occupational sacrifices, deal with financial concerns independently, organize relocations, and cope with lack of social support. These multiple responsibilities can create a myriad of stressors, which over time lend themselves to the formation of chronic stress. The purpose of this exploratory study is to determine if spouses of active duty military members display chronic stress according to the Trier Inventory for the Assessment of Chronic Stress (TICS-LE). Seventy-one female military spouses responded to the TICS-LE online. Mean scores for all the factors on the TICS-LE ranged between 1.03 and 2.05, which was lower than expected given the plethora of stressors associated with the military lifestyle. Findings suggested that chronic stress levels experienced by military spouses may be mitigated by high quality social support systems, the demographic factors of the military spouse and whether the military family has developed resilience after years of being embedded in the military lifestyle. This major paper project underscores the need for advanced practice nurses to be aware of the multiple stressors that military spouses face, unique cultural phenomena present in military life, and its possible implications on the psychological and physical functioning of military spouses.