Military Couple Research


Research detects interpersonal differences among couples with PTSD

Research conducted at The Family Institute at Northwestern University detected clear interpersonal behavior differences between couples with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study examined conflict behavior in a sample of 64 military couples.  Compared to couples without PTSD, couples with PTSD displayed more interpersonal hostility and control; more sulking, blaming, and controlling behavior; and less affirming and connecting behavior.

”Results advance our understanding of the relational impacts of PTSD on military service members and their partners, and underscore the value of couple-based interventions for PTSD,” said the study’s principal investigator, Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and researcher at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.

This study was funded by the American Psychological Association’s Division 19 Research Grant Award given to Dr. Knobloch-Fedders.  It was conducted in collaboration with investigators at the University of Utah, VA Puget Sound Health Care System and Washington University, and George Mason University.  Results of the study are published in Behavior Therapy, the journal of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).


Research Conducted on PTSD in Military Couples

(Evanston, IL, September 26, 2014) – Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD, Director of Research and Kovler Scholar at The Family Institute, has been awarded a $5,000 research grant by the American Psychological Association’s Society for Military Psychology (Division 19). The grant, “Posttraumatic stress disorder and physiological reactivity in response to conflict among military couples,” will fund a research study designed to investigate the interpersonal and relational correlates of PTSD in military couples. Dr. Knobloch-Fedders will lead a team of collaborators from the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Seattle, Washington, the University of Utah, and George Mason University on the project. Results will be used to develop more effective assessment and intervention strategies for couples affected by PTSD.


Military Couple Research Conducted through The Family Institute Receives Grant from the U.S. Department of Defense

(Evanston, IL, July 1, 2014) – The Family Institute at Northwestern University, an organization committed to strengthening and healing families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research, is pleased to announce that Lynne Knobloch-Fedders, PhD, a clinical psychologist and The Family Institute’s Director of Research and Kovler Scholar, will serve as a co-investigator on a $834,061 research grant awarded by the Department of Defense U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under the Military Operational Medicine Research Program.

The award, received in collaboration with Dr. Leanne Knobloch from the University of Illinois and Dr. Benjamin Karney from UCLA, will fund the study “Reunification Difficulty of Military Couples Following Deployment.” This four-year project, the first federally-funded research study conducted by The Family Institute, is designed to investigate how military couples reunite after a soldier returns home from combat deployment.

The reentry of service members back into family life after deployment can be extremely challenging for military couples. Military personnel may have trouble acclimating to changes that occurred they were away, spouses who managed autonomously during deployment may find it difficult to share decision-making power, and both partners may struggle to renew closeness.

The demands of reentry also take a substantial toll on people’s personal and relational well-being. Both military personnel and their at-home partners are at risk for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and relationship distress during the period following homecoming. Knobloch-Fedders notes that there is an “urgent need for research to inform prevention and intervention services for couples during the transition to reintegration.”

The goal of this research project is to evaluate how people’s mental health symptoms and romantic relationship characteristics predict their reintegration difficulties following deployment. The researchers will collect online survey data from 250 couples one month before homecoming, at homecoming, and for seven consecutive months after homecoming, in an effort to evaluate patterns of change as the transition unfolds over time.