Purpose: Geographic moves have been reported to have a negative impact on the mental health of children, but it is often difficult to separate the effect of the move from the circumstances that impelled it. Military populations may offer a way to examine this issue. Moves are common in military families, but parental employment and healthcare coverage remain constant.
Methods: Children of military parents with geographic moves in 2008 were compared with those without geographic moves with regard to the odds of mental health service use in 2009.
Results: This study included 548,336 children aged 6-17 years, and 179,486 (25%) children moved in 2008. Children aged 6-11 years with a geographic move had higher odds of mental health and outpatient visits (odds ratio [OR] 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.06). Children aged 12-17 years with a geographic move had higher odds of mental outpatient visits (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.01-1.07), psychiatric hospitalizations (OR 1.19; 95% CI 1.07-1.32), and emergency psychiatric visits (OR 1.20; 95% CI 1.07-1.32).
Conclusion: Children with a geographic move in the previous year have increased odds of mental health encounters. Among adolescents, this increase extends to psychiatric hospitalizations and emergency visits.
Keywords: Geographic moves; Mental health; Military.
Published by Elsevier Inc.