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Targeting Relational Aggression in Veterans: The Strength at Home Friends and Family Intervention

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(6):e774–e778
10.4088/JCP.14m09155

Objective: We evaluated the effectiveness of Strength at Home Friends and Families (SAH-F), a dyadic group intervention to prevent relational aggression and its negative consequences, in a community-based sample of service members/veterans and significant others who reported relational difficulties.

Method: Participants included 70 veterans and their loved ones. Recruitment was conducted from October 2010 through March 2012. Participants completed an initial assessment that included measures of relational aggression and functioning, depressive symptoms, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Participants were enrolled in the 10-week SAH-F targeting social information–processing mechanisms hypothesized to underlie the relationship between trauma and aggression and were reassessed at program completion and 3 months after intervention.

Results: Significant reductions in psychological aggression were seen both at program completion and at 3-month follow-up for both veterans (standardized mean gain effect size [ESsg] = –0.45, P < .05) and significant others (ESsg = –0.30, P < .05). Perpetration of physical aggression remained low after pretreatment and did not increase. Relationship adjustment reported by significant others, but not veterans, indicated a significant improvement from pretreatment to program completion (ESsg = 0.33, P < .05). Significant (P < .05) decreases in depressive symptoms were observed from pretreatment to program completion for veterans (ESsg = –0.30, P < .05) and significant others (ESsg = –0.55, P < .05), and significant decreases in PTSD symptoms were observed from pretreatment to follow-up for veterans and significant others (ESsg = –0.52, P < .05).

Conclusions: Results provide support for the effectiveness of SAH-F in reducing relational aggression in military member/significant other dyads and enhancing relationship quality and mental health.