Retention in Outpatient Child Behavioral Health Services Among Military and Civilian Families

Jennifer L. Crockett, Helen F. Yu-Lefler, Emily D. Shumate, Jamie L. Benson, Neha Karray, Susan Perkins-Parks, Anne W Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retention in treatment for children with behavior problems is critical to achieve successful outcomes, and clinical evidence suggests the behavioral health needs and retention of military-connected and civilian families differ meaningfully. Military and civilian children in outpatient behavioral treatment were compared in terms of presenting problems as well as appointment adherence (n = 446 children and their parents). Demographics and rates of externalizing behavior were similar across the two groups. More military than civilian children had internalizing problems. Military parents had more parenting distress and depressive symptoms. Fewer military families dropped out of treatment early. Within-military comparisons demonstrated that children whose parent had recently deployed were more likely to have internalizing problems and poor adaptive skills. Although retention was better among military families, the early treatment drop-out proportions (20–30%) for both groups highlight a barrier to effective behavioral intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-138
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral Health Services and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Child behavior problems
  • Military families
  • Treatment adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


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