The role of maternal relationship in the persisting effect of combat exposure.

TitleThe role of maternal relationship in the persisting effect of combat exposure.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsCarr, DC, Taylor, MG, Meyer, A, Sachs-Ericsson, NJ
JournalInnovation in Aging
Date Published2019 Jan
ISSN Number2399-5300
KeywordsFamily Roles/Relationships, Motherhood, Veterans, Well-being

Background and Objectives: The veteran population is aging. Combat exposure is associated with negative health and psychological outcomes in some, but not all veterans; others even appear to experience gains. One mechanism driving these varied responses might be early life relationships. This study investigated the extent to which the quality of early maternal relationships influences the association between combat exposures and life satisfaction (LS) among older male veterans.

Research Design and Methods: Data were drawn from a pooled sample of male veterans in the Health and Retirement Study who completed the 2013 Veteran Mail Survey ( = 1,160). We used ordinary least squares regression to examine the association between combat exposures (with and without exposure to death) and LS, and the moderating effect of maternal relationship quality on this association.

Results: We found a significant positive association between maternal relationship quality and LS, and a significant association of combat that was dependent on maternal relationship quality. Specifically, combat-exposed veterans with poor maternal relationship quality reported lower LS, whereas combat-exposed veterans with high relationship quality reported higher LS-relative to their noncombat-exposed counterparts. The effects of exposure to death of hazardous toxins did not mediate or moderate this relationship.

Discussion and Implications: Findings indicate that maternal relationships had a lasting influence on whether combat contributed to a positive, negative, or neutral long-term effect on wellbeing. Findings support previous studies that suggest early life factors may play an important role in the fostering of resilient health outcomes over the life course. Implications for preventative strategies in soldiers are discussed.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalInnov Aging
Citation Key10051
PubMed ID30972373
PubMed Central IDPMC6450661