Factors Associated with the Onset of Depression in Navy Recruits


Name: Reg Williams


Organization: The Regents of the University of Michigan

Performance Site: University of Michigan, Ann Anbor, MI; Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL; Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, IL

Year Published: 1996

Abstract Status: Final


Recruit training is essential for shaping young men and women's future careers in the Navy. Yet, some recruits exhibit mental health problems during their recruit training, with depression the most common. This research used a nursing stress-adaptation theoretical model which examined what selected predisposing factors, appraisal of stressors, coping resources and coping styles were predictive of responses to Navy recruit training.The investigation used a cross-sectional two-by-two factorial design. The two factors were depression (depressive symptoms or not) and disposition status (returned to duty or separated) of the recruits. The sample consisted of 443 Navy recruits 200 of whom had experienced depressive symptoms and 243 who were group-matched controls.Results of the study showed that among the 200 recruits with depressive symptoms, the research diagnostic criteria of Major Depressive Disorders (34%) and Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood (32%) were the most frequently observed primary Axis I diagnosis. The remaining represented a mixture of other depression diagnoses. Five hypotheses were proposed and all five were supported. The depressed group had significant more history of parental abuse, history of substance abuse, history of family mental illness, and history of psychiatric problems than the control group. The depressed group had significantly higher levels of stress, loneliness, lower social support, lower reciprocity, higher conflict, and a lower sense of belonging overall. Depressed recruits handled stressful events more with emotion-oriented, and used less task- or diversion-oriented coping strategies. A Classification Tree prediction model was used to determine differences between depressed recruits who were separated versus those returned to duty. Higher conflict interpersonal skills and history of parental abuse were the strongest predictors for separation from the Navy.Understanding the nature of the recruit's interpersonal relationships, including social support, sense of belonging, and coping may well illuminate specific interpersonal processes that are related to a person's development of depression. This new knowledge adds not only to understanding the role of specific life stressors, interpersonal functioning, and development of depressive symptoms, but now promotes the development of specific interventions that could save costs for the Navy.


Final report is available on NTRL: https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/PB2002107...