Military Family Connections

Posted on November 18, 2015 by

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In our current ANS featured article, author Susan W. Durham, PhD reports her qualitative study of communication challenges experienced by service members in staying connected with their families.  Dr Durham shared this background information about her work for ANS readers:

Coming from an early career in the US Army Nurse Corps and as a parent of an Infantry officer who was deployed to both Iraq aDurham.jpgnd Afghanistan four times over the course of seven years, I was inspired to study the experiences of deployed service members in their attempt to stay connected to their families and loved ones while deployed in a combat environment. Doing these interviews and listening to the stories has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. Most of the
qualitative studies that looked at communication issues and deployment studied the experiences of family members and the service members’ voices were not being heard.

The benefit of content analysis, a form of qualitative research, doesn’t generally result in hard data or a bar graph. Some scholars even have difficulty understanding the value of this type of research and may ask, “Where do interviews and observations like these get us?” The short answer is that qualitative data provides context and meaning.

These interviews not only tell unique stories about individual service members’ experiences but also offer a collective understanding of common communication challenges for deployed individuals. Hearing and analyzing their stories and combining the results into a combined narrative provided multiple perspectives that no single participant could have related in totality. The interviews also accomplished what survey questions could not because every participant was able to express his or her personal, detailed experiences and observations of the phenomenon being studied. The description of the participants’ experiences enables the reader to understand the service members’ perspectives, perceptions, and reactions known only to them. Also, the results offered a collective viewpoint that ultimately will provide quantitative researchers with variables, issues, and hypotheses for future inquiry about communication issues experienced during deployment to a combat environment.

You can download a copy of this article at no cost while it is featured on the ANS web site  – I urge you to do so now, and then return here to join me in expressing appreciation for the insights that Dr. Durham’s study provides.

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