The Well-Being of Australian Service Mothers

Carol P. Davy, Michelle Lorimer, Alexander McFarlane, Stephanie Hodson, Samantha Crompvoets, Ellie Lawrence-Wood, Susan J. Neuhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In recent years servicewomen with dependent children have for the first time in history been deployed into conflict zones in support of Australian Defence Force operations. This represents a significant social change, and the implications of deployment on the health of these service mothers are not fully understood. Data from women who participated in the Middle East Area of Operations Census study were analyzed to compare the psychological and physical symptoms reported by service mothers with service women who had no dependent children at the time of deploying to Afghanistan and/or Iraq. Of the 921 women who were included in this analysis, 235 had dependent children and 686 had no dependent children (comparison group). Service mothers were significantly older and were more likely to have served in the Air Force than women in the comparison group. Findings demonstrate that serving mothers were not at any significantly higher risk of psychological distress, post-traumatic stress symptoms, alcohol misuse, or reporting of somatic symptoms, than women who had no dependent children. A number of possible explanations for these findings are discussed, including the healthy soldier/mother effect, support from partners and extended family members, and collegial networks.

Number of pages17
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • military health
  • mothers
  • psychological well-being
  • somatic symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Davy, C. P., Lorimer, M., McFarlane, A., Hodson, S., Crompvoets, S., Lawrence-Wood, E., & Neuhaus, S. J. (2015). The Well-Being of Australian Service Mothers. Women and Health, 55(7), 737-753.