Perceived burden in spouses of National Guard/Reserve service members deployed during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.J Anxiety Disord. 2011 Apr; 25(3):346-51.JA
Spouses of combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience elevated psychological distress. Recent research indicates that spouses' perceptions of burden may be one mechanism of such distress, but there are several gaps in this literature. No research has examined perceived burden in relation to symptoms other than PTSD or subclinical levels of psychological distress, and very little research has focused on characteristics of spouses that may be related to their perceptions of burden. The current study examined these variables in 130 spouses of reserve component troops deployed during Operations Enduring/Iraqi Freedom. Spouses' burden was positively associated with symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety in service members, regardless of clinical severity. Moreover, burden fully mediated the relation between each type of symptom and spouses' own psychological distress. Furthermore, levels of burden were significantly related to spouses' neuroticism, avoidant coping, and self-efficacy, but only avoidant coping remained a significant predictor of burden when accounting for service members' distress. These results suggest that a broad range of service members' symptoms are related to spouses' burden and distress, and although individual characteristics of spouses may be related to their perceptions of burden, service members' symptoms play a primary role.