U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



General Hospital Psychiatry 35 (2013) 556–560


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Objective: Members of the US armed forces have been heavily deployed in support of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This study examined the affect of a parent's deployment to war on the rate of psychiatric hospitalization among their children. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study. Records of children of active duty personnel during fiscal years 2007 through 2009 were linked with their parent's deployment records. Psychiatric hospitalizations were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes on admission. Odds ratios (OR) of hospitalization were determined using both univariate and multivariate logistic regression. Lengths of hospital stay were also compared by linear regression using Duan's smearing estimate method. Results: A total of 377,565 children aged 9–17 years were included along with data on both their active duty and civilian parent. Mean child age was 12.53 years (S.D.: 2.5 years); 51% were male. Mean age of active duty parent was 37.8 years (S.D.: 5.2 years); 93% were male, 90% were married and 62% were white. In the study, 2533 children were hospitalized for a mental or behavioral health disorder in fiscal year 2009 with a median length of stay of 8 days. After adjusting for demographic data and past psychiatric history of the child, active duty parent and civilian parent, the OR of hospitalization for children with a recently deployed parent was 1.10 (95% confidence interval: 1.01–1.19). The OR of hospitalization increased with increasing length of deployment with a positive test of trend. There was no statistically significant difference in distribution of admission diagnoses or length of hospital stay based on deployment by the active duty parent. Conclusions: Psychiatric hospitalization increased by 10% among children aged 9–17 years when a military parent was recently deployed. The odds of hospitalization increased with increasing length of a parent's deployment