The impact of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan on partners and wives of military personnel

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;23(2):192-200. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2011.560144.


Deployment has well documented psychological consequences for military personnel. To fully understand the human cost of war, the psychosocial impact of separation and homecoming of military personnel on their families must also be considered. Recent arduous conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan make understanding the impact of war on spouses topical and pertinent. Widespread psychological morbidity and social dysfunction have been reported in spouses of military personnel who have been deployed to combat zones such as Vietnam, with difficulties most acute for spouses of military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A review of the literature published between 2001 and 2010 assessing the impact of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan on spouses of military personnel was conducted. A total of 14 US-based studies were identified which examined psychological morbidity, help seeking, marital dysfunction and stress in spouses. Longer deployments, deployment extensions and PTSD in military personnel were found to be associated with psychological problems for the spouse. Methodological differences in the studies limit direct comparisons. Recommendations for future research are outlined. The needs of spouses of military personnel remain an important issue with implications for service provision and occupational capability of both partners.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services
  • Mental Health*
  • Military Personnel* / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*