Aim: The aim was to explore emotional distress and health risk behaviours of mothers of servicemen. The study was inspired by the first author's clinical practice in primary care among women who reported significant emotional distress surrounding impending deployment of their sons.
Background: Thousands of US service members have been deployed in the current wars. The potentially profound effects of deployment on emotional distress of military spouses and children have been documented; however, mothers of servicemen have not been studied.
Methods: This was an exploratory descriptive study to determine self-reported levels of emotional distress and health risk behaviours in the mothers of deployed male US Marines compared with mothers of male Marines not currently deployed. Mothers were accessed via a voluntary online support organization.
Results: Mothers of deployed sons reported significantly higher levels of emotional distress and more health risk behaviours compared with mothers of sons not deployed. Many of the mothers in both groups reported high levels of emotional distress.
Discussion: As primary care providers, nurses should be alert to the high levels of emotional distress and health risk behaviours among all patients. This exploratory study highlights these dimensions in mothers of servicemen.
Conclusions: This study is the first of mothers of sons serving in the military. While the focus is on mothers of sons serving in the US military, their experience is likely not unique. Mothers of military service members all over the world send their children off to war and wait for their safe return.
© 2011 The Authors. International Nursing Review © 2011 International Council of Nurses.