Skip to main content


Log in

Mechanisms Through Which a Family Caregiver Coaching Intervention Might Reduce Anxiety Among Children in Military Households

  • Published:
Maternal and Child Health Journal Aims and scope Submit manuscript



Children of injured or disabled veterans and service members may be at risk for mental health and adjustment problems due to household stress. Yet, there are few widely available interventions to address the needs of this population. Reducing distress and improving coping skills of the parent who cares for the injured or disabled adult may improve child outcomes. This paper examines whether changes in caregiver psychosocial outcomes after a caregiver coaching intervention are associated with decreases in child anxiety.


Using programmatic data collected between 2015 and 2019 from participants in a family caregiver coaching intervention (170 caregivers, 294 children), we apply linear mixed models to assess associations between changes in family caregiver well-being, including problem solving, depressive symptoms, burden, health complaints and quality of life, and changes in parent-reported child anxiety.


The baseline median Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale—Parent score was 17; children aged 6–11 had slightly higher scores. Child anxiety scores decreased on average 2.8 points (SD 8.4) between baseline and follow-up. In adjusted models, decreases in caregiver depressive symptoms and health complaints were associated with decreases in child anxiety. Caregiver problem-solving skills, quality of life, and subjective burden were not associated with changes in child anxiety.


Family caregiver-focused interventions that decrease caregiver stress may positively affect children in the household. Few resources are directed at military children; therefore, practitioners should consider ways to leverage caregiver interventions to address child well-being, such as incorporating information on parenting strategies and addressing issues faced by military children.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. In-sample Cronbach’s alpha.

  2. Refers to caregivers who completed 70% of OFC sessions and took the follow up assessment.


Download references


Support for this publication comes from a contract with the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University, with funding provided by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. We would like to thank Katherine Nance for her careful review of the final draft.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Megan Shepherd-Banigan.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

This study was reviewed by the Duke School of Medicine Institutional Review Board.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Electronic supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Shepherd-Banigan, M., Jones, K.A., Wang, K. et al. Mechanisms Through Which a Family Caregiver Coaching Intervention Might Reduce Anxiety Among Children in Military Households. Matern Child Health J 24, 1248–1258 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: