Presentation Title: Assisting Military Children in a Time of War

Abstract: Background This presentation presents results from evaluations of four kits of multimedia materials prepared by Sesame Workshop for use with families experiencing deployments, multiple deployments, wound or injuries, or family member death. Each kit contained DVDs and print materials targeting both parents and children. Methods Each kit was evaluated using a pretest-posttest design, with measurements separated by four weeks. Three studies included control groups that received an alternative Sesame Workshop kit. Data were collected via telephone interviews or online questionnaires with caregivers. The total number of participants was 895; most were mothers 35 or younger married to partners in paygrades E-2 to E-6. Results Results revealed high levels of use and appeal of the kits by families, with no differences between groups. Caregivers reported significant increases in communication with their children; in the Bereavement study, these were significantly larger in the test group, Caregivers also reported significant increases in efforts to provide a sense of normalcy for children; in the Wounds and Injuries study, these were significantly larger in the test group. There were significant improvements in caregivers’ reports of their own well-being in all studies; in the Wounds and Injuries study, significantly larger in the test group. Caregivers in the test groups were significantly more likely to report using a variety of positive coping behaviors. In two studies, caregivers in the test group were significant more likely to report that the kit changed the way they helped their child, and greater comfort and optimism. Discussion The kits produced measureable improvements in several indicators of caregiver functioning over a 4-week period, which in some cases were larger in the test group. Caregivers were significantly more likely to perceive the military-oriented materials as helpful, suggesting the benefit of multimedia materials in support of distressed military families facing psychological stress or trauma.

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