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Our History

Military medicine has a long and celebrated history. We apply lessons from our past to improve the care of military personnel and their families today and in the future. New surgical techniques, powerful painkillers, antibiotic drugs, and triage and evacuation procedures have revolutionized military medicine.

In this section, you'll find featured stories and information about the history of military medicine.

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Embedded fragments from U.S. military personnel--chemical analysis and potential health implications.

Study

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The majority of modern war wounds are characterized by high-energy blast injuries containing a wide range of retained foreign materials of a metallic or composite nature. Health effects of retained fragments range from local or systemic toxicities to foreign body reactions or malignancies, and dependent on the chemical composition and corrosiveness of the fragments in vivo. Information obtained by chemical analysis of excised fragments can be used to guide clinical decisions regarding the need for fragment removal, to develop therapeutic interventions, and to better anticipate future medical problems from retained fragment related injuries. In response to this need, a new U.S Department of Defense (DOD) directive has been issued requiring characterization of all removed fragments to provide a database of fragment types occurring in combat injuries. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to determine the chemical composition of retained embedded fragments removed from injured military personnel, and to relate results to histological findings in tissue adjacent to fragment material. METHODS: We describe an approach for the chemical analysis and characterization of retained fragments and adjacent tissues, and include case examples describing fragments containing depleted uranium (DU), tungsten (W), lead (Pb), and non-metal foreign bodies composed of natural and composite materials. Fragments obtained from four patients with penetrating blast wounds to the limbs were studied employing a wide range of chemical and microscopy techniques. Available adjacent tissues from three of the cases were histologically, microscopically, and chemically examined. The physical and compositional properties of the removed foreign material surfaces were examined with energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (EDXRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), laser ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass-spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and confocal laser Raman microspectroscopy (CLRM). Quantitative chemical analysis of both fragments and available tissues was conducted employing ICP-MS. RESULTS: Over 800 fragments have been characterized and included as part of the Joint Pathology Center Embedded Fragment Registry. Most fragments were obtained from penetrating wounds sustained to the extremities, particularly soft tissue injuries. The majority of the fragments were primarily composed of a single metal such as iron, copper, or aluminum with traces of antimony, titanium, uranium, and lead. One case demonstrated tungsten in both the fragment and the connected tissue, together with lead. Capsular tissue and fragments from a case from the 1991 Kuwait conflict showed evidence of uranium that was further characterized by uranium isotopic ratios analysis to contain depleted uranium. CONCLUSIONS: The present study provides a systematic approach for obtaining a full chemical characterization of retained embedded fragments. Given the vast number of combat casualties with retained fragments, it is expected that fragment analysis will have significant implications for the optimal short and long-term care of wounded service members.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Joint Pathology Center
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Agency, office or organization under authority of the Sec Def (not affiliated to Army, Navy, or Air Force)
  • Release Date/Publication: January 01, 2014
  • Citation: Centeno JA, Rogers DA, van der Voet GB, Fornero E, Zhang L et. al. Embedded fragments from U.S. military personnel--chemical analysis and potential health implications. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Jan 23;11(2):1261-78.

Study on Incidence of Breast Cancer Among Members of Armed Forces Serving on Active Duty

Study

Abstract

The Department of Defense (DOD), Defense Health Agency submits this report in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (HR 4310), section 737, that calls on The Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the incidence of breast cancer among members of the Armed Forces. The findings from this study indicate that breast cancer incidence among active service members is a rare event. The female breast cancer incidence rate among this population has not changed significantly across the study period, 2000 through 2010, and the age-adjusted incidence rate is significantly lower over that time period when compared with national incidence rates reported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Approximately 72% of all breast cancer patients are first diagnosed at stages 0, I or II, which suggests that the Department’s outreach efforts to promote awareness and use of screening services have been effective for detecting tumors early. Upon detection, the service member has access to robust treatment options that reflect evidenced-based clinical practices and cutting-edge technologies offered in nationally-accredited cancer programs within the Military Health System. Since TRICARE has a process to assimilate emerging cancers technologies, medications, and practice into the benefit, the need for changes to law or policy are not apparent for the DOD to sustain a high level of commitment to quality cancer care.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Congressionally Mandated: Yes
  • Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Release Date/Publication: June 01, 2014
  • Citation: Williams TV, AFHSC, JPC, NMCPHC, WRNMMC, Brandeis University, Axiom Resource Management, Inc.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military Top-Line Estimates for Active-Duty Coast Guard Members from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study

Study

Abstract

In early 2014, the Department of Defense (DOD) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) asked the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) to conduct an independent assessment of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination in the military — an assessment last conducted in 2012 by the department itself with the Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Personnel (WGRA). Separately, the Coast Guard requested that we expand the 2014 study to include an assessment of its active and reserve force. This report provides initial top-line active-duty Coast Guard estimates from the resulting RAND Military Workplace Study, which invited close to 560,000 service members to participate in a survey fielded in August and September of 2014. The RMWS takes an approach to counting individuals in the military who experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, or gender discrimination that measures the incidence of specific crimes and violations. Our measurement of sexual assault aligns closely with the definitions and criteria in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for Article 120 crimes. The survey measures of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, which together we refer to as sex-based military equal opportunity (MEO) violations, use criteria drawn from DOD Directive 1350.2. Compared with past surveys that were designed to measure a climate of sexual misconduct associated with illegal behavior, the approach used in the RMWS offers greater precision in estimating the number of crimes and MEO violations that have occurred. Key Findings: RAND Researchers estimate that, as of early fall of 2014, approximately 270 of the U.S. Coast Guard's 39,000 active-duty members experienced one or more sexual assaults in the past year. This figure includes assaults by other service members, civilians, spouses or others. It represents 3.0 percent of active-duty women and 0.3 percent of active-duty men. Nearly a quarter of active-duty women experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the past year. The majority of these sex-based military equal opportunity (MEO) violations involve experiences consistent with a sexually hostile work environment or gender discrimination. Our estimate of the prevalence of sex-based MEO violations against active-duty Coast Guard men is substantially lower, though still affecting about 1 in 22 men. These violations usually involve hostile work environments. The study found that a smaller proportion of coast guard members experienced sexual assaults than found among their counterparts in the other U.S. Military Services. In forthcoming reports, RAND will investigate if some of these service differences are attributable to differences in member demographics (e.g., age and education levels), cultures, or policies across services. Men in the Coast Guard experienced lower rates of sex-based MEO violations than men in the other services.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: DoD agency, office, or organization other than the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Defense Health Agency
  • Sponsoring Office: National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Federally Funded Research and Development Center
  • Release Date/Publication: December 01, 2014
  • Citation: Rand Corporation, National Defense Research Institute

Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military Top-Line Estimates for Active-Duty Service Members from the 2014 RAND Military Workplace Study

Study

Abstract

In early 2014, the Department of Defense (DOD) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) asked the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) to conduct an independent assessment of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination in the military — an assessment last conducted in 2012 by the department itself with the Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Personnel (WGRA). This report provides initial top-line estimates from the resulting study, the RAND Military Workplace Study (RMWS), which included a survey of 560,000 U.S. service members fielded in August and September of 2014. Compared to the prior DOD studies, the RMWS takes a new approach to counting individuals in the military who experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, or gender discrimination. Our measurement of sexual assault aligns closely with the definitions and criteria in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for Article 120 crimes. The survey measures of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, which together we refer to as sex-based military equal opportunity (MEO) violations, use criteria drawn directly from DoD Directive 1350.2. Compared with past surveys that were designed to measure a climate of sexual misconduct associated with illegal behavior, the approach used in the RMWS offers greater precision in estimating the number of crimes and MEO violations that have occurred. However, recognizing that DOD is also interested in trends in sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination, RAND fielded a portion of the 2014 surveys using the same questions as previous DoD surveys on this topic. Key Findings: RAND researchers estimate that, as of early fall of 2014, approximately 20,000 of the U.S. Military's 1.3 million active-duty members experienced one or more sexual assaults in the past year. This figure includes assaults by other service members, civilians, spouses or others. It represents 4.9 percent of active-duty women and 1 percent of active-duty men. An estimated 26 percent of active-duty women and 7 percent of active-duty men experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the past year. Close to one third of women in the Navy and Marines experienced one of these violations in the past year. The majority of these violations involve experiences consistent with a sexually hostile work environment; however, significant numbers of women also indicate having experienced gender discrimination. We estimate that in the Army, almost 1 in 12 men experienced such a violation in the past year; in the Navy, it was nearly 1 in 10. For men, the largest source of problems stem from sexually hostile work environments, not gender discrimination or sexual quid pro quo. The study found significant differences in rates of sexual assaults and sex-based MEO violations by branch of service. Fewer Air Force men and women experienced these events than their counterparts in the other services. In forthcoming reports, RAND will investigate if some of these service differences are attributable to differences in member demographics (e.g., age and education levels), cultures, or policies across services. Trend data suggest that rates of unwanted sexual contact and sexual harassment for active-duty women have declined from 2012; rates for both men and women are lower than in 2006, but about the same as in 2010. We estimate that the percentage of active-duty women who experienced unwanted sexual contact as measured by the WGRA methods declined from 6.1 percent in 2012 to 4.3 percent in 2014; the same percentages for men did not see a statistically significant change (1.2 percent in 2012 compared with 0.9 percent in 2014). Similarly, estimates for the percentage of women who experienced sexual harassment in the past year declined significantly from 23.2 percent in 2012 to 20.2 percent in 2014; for men, the percentage in 2014 (3.5 percent) was not significantly lower than in 2012 (4.1 percent).

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: DoD agency, office, or organization other than the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Defense Health Agency
  • Sponsoring Office: National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Federally Funded Research and Development Center
  • Release Date/Publication: December 01, 2014
  • Citation: Rand Corporation, National Defense Research Institute

Combining surveillance systems: effective merging of U.S. Veteran and military health data.

Study

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) had more than 18 million healthcare beneficiaries in 2011. Both Departments conduct individual surveillance for disease events and health threats. METHODS: We performed joint and separate analyses of VA and DOD outpatient visit data from October 2006 through September 2010 to demonstrate geographic and demographic coverage, timeliness of influenza epidemic awareness, and impact on spatial cluster detection achieved from a joint VA and DOD biosurveillance platform. RESULTS: Although VA coverage is greater, DOD visit volume is comparable or greater. Detection of outbreaks was better in DOD data for 58% and 75% of geographic areas surveyed for seasonal and pandemic influenza, respectively, and better in VA data for 34% and 15%. The VA system tended to alert earlier with a typical H3N2 seasonal influenza affecting older patients, and the DOD performed better during the H1N1 pandemic which affected younger patients more than normal influenza seasons. Retrospective analysis of known outbreaks demonstrated clustering evidence found in separate DOD and VA runs, which persisted with combined data sets. CONCLUSION: The analyses demonstrate two complementary surveillance systems with evident benefits for the national health picture. Relative timeliness of reporting could be improved in 92% of geographic areas with access to both systems, and more information provided in areas where only one type of facility exists. Combining DOD and VA data enhances geographic cluster detection capability without loss of sensitivity to events isolated in either population and has a manageable effect on customary alert rates.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Agency, office or organization under authority of the Sec Def (not affiliated to Army, Navy, or Air Force)
  • Release Date/Publication: December 01, 2013
  • Citation: Pavlin JA, Burkom HS, Elbert Y, Lucero-Obusan C, Winston CA, Cox KL, Oda G, Lombardo JS, Holodniy M. Combining surveillance systems: effective merging of U.S. Veteran and military health data. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 26;8(12):e84077.

Diagnostic Utility of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist for Identifying Full and Partial PTSD in Active-Duty Military.

Study

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine optimally efficient cutoff scores on the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) for identifying full posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and partial PTSD (P-PTSD) in active-duty Marines and Sailors. Participants were 1,016 Marines and Sailors who were administered the PCL and Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) 3 months after returning from Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. PCL cutoffs were tested against three CAPS-based classifications: full PTSD, stringent P-PTSD, and lenient P-PTSD. A PCL score of 39 was found to be optimally efficient for identifying full PTSD. Scores of 38 and 33 were found to be optimally efficient for identifying stringent and lenient P-PTSD, respectively. Findings suggest that the PCL cutoff that is optimally efficient for detecting PTSD in active-duty Marines and Sailors is substantially lower than the score of 50 commonly used by researchers. In addition, findings provide scores useful for identifying P-PTSD in returning service members.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: September 01, 2014
  • Citation: Dickstein BD, Weathers FW, Angkaw AC, Nievergelt CM, Yurgil K, Nash WP, et.al. . Diagnostic Utility of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist for Identifying Full and Partial PTSD in Active-Duty Military. Assessment. 2014 Sep 1.

A Brief Description of the Operation of the DoD Serum Repository.

Study

Abstract

Beginning in 1985, the United States military has consistently maintained repositories of frozen human serum for force health protection reasons. The separate repositories created by the Army, Navy, and Air Force during the startup of their human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening programs were fully combined by 1996, along with the Defense Medical Surveillance System, to form the DoD Serum Repository (DoDSR). Currently comprised of 450,000 square feet of storage space at a constant -30 degrees Celsius, the DoDSR, operated by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), receives approximately 2 million new serum specimens per year as a result of current HIV screening programs and pre- and post-deployment serum collection. Following initial testing for HIV when required, each specimen remains frozen until needed for clinical testing or a public health study, and its physical location is carefully tracked. Certain militarily-relevant research studies occur, though the serum from a specific individual is never allowed to be fully exhausted. AFHSC maintains careful control over the repository, utilizing a scientific review board to determine which requests for serum will be granted. As of 2012, only 0.42% of all of the frozen specimens in the DoDSR had been thawed for any type of use. The addition of new specimen processing capacity and significant changes to policy would be required if more of the specimens were to be used to answer relevant epidemiological, operational, or medical research questions.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Release Date/Publication: October 01, 2015
  • Citation: Perdue CL, Eick-Cost AA, Rubertone MV. A Brief Description of the Operation of the DoD Serum Repository. Mil Med. 2015 Oct;180(10 Suppl):10-2.

Low back pain, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2014.

Study

Abstract

Low back pain (LBP) is a common cause of disability, lost worker productivity, and healthcare costs in both military and civilian populations. During the 5-year surveillance period of this analysis, the LBP diagnoses of interest were associated with more than 6 million outpatient healthcare encounters and more than 25,000 hospitalizations among active component service members. Annual numbers of outpatient encounters for LBP diagnoses increased 34% during 2010-2014. Annual numbers of inpatient encounters decreased during the period. Incidence rates were lowest among the youngest service members and increased with advancing age. Of all service members ever given a LBP diagnosis during the surveillance period, 91% were diagnosed at least once with a condition in the broad category "nonspecific back pain." The most common specific diagnosis during the surveillance period was lumbago. The discussion covers the importance of LBP in the military, initiatives to lower the incidence of, and enhance the care of, LBP, and methodologic limitations to the analysis.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Release Date/Publication: November 01, 2015
  • Citation: AFHSC. Clark LL, Hu Z. Low back pain, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2014. MSMR. 2015 Dec;22(12):8-11.

Incidence, Etiology and Risk Factors for Travelers' Diarrhea during a Hospital Ship-Based Military Humanitarian Mission: Continuing Promise 2011.

Study

Abstract

Travelers' diarrhea (TD) is the most common ailment affecting travelers, including deployed U.S. military. Continuing Promise 2011 was a 5-month humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) military and non-governmental organization training mission aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort, which deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean between April and September 2011. Enhanced TD surveillance was undertaken during this mission for public health purposes. Passive surveillance (clinic visits), active surveillance (self-reported questionnaires), and stool samples were collected weekly from shipboard personnel. Descriptive statistics and multivariate-logistic regression methods were used to estimate disease burden and risk factor identification. Two polymerase chain reaction methods on frozen stool were used for microbiological identification. TD was the primary complaint for all clinic visits (20%) and the leading cause of lost duties days due to bed rest confinement (62%), though underreported, as the active self-reported incidence was 3.5 times higher than the passive clinic-reported incidence. Vomiting (p = 0.002), feeling lightheaded or weak (p = 0.005), and being a food handler (p = 0.017) were associated with increased odds of lost duty days. Thirty-eight percent of self-reported cases reported some amount of performance impact. Based on the epidemiological curve, country of exercise and liberty appeared to be temporally associated with increased risk. From the weekly self-reported questionnaire risk factor analysis, eating off ship in the prior week was strongly associated (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.4, p<0.001). Consumption of seafood increased risk (aOR 1.7, p = 0.03), though consumption of ice appeared protective (aOR 0.3, p = 0.01). Etiology was bacterial (48%), with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli as the predominant pathogen (35%). Norovirus was identified as a sole pathogen in 12%, though found as a copathogen in an additional 6%. Despite employment of current and targeted preventive interventions, ship-board HA/DR missions may experience a significant risk for TD among deployed US military personnel and potentially impact mission success.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: May 01, 2016
  • Citation: Hameed JM, et. al., Incidence, Etiology and Risk Factors for Travelers' Diarrhea during a Hospital Ship-Based Military Humanitarian Mission: Continuing Promise 2011. PLoS One. 2016 May 12;11(5):e0154830.

PREVALENCE AND CORRELATES OF SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR AMONG NEW SOLDIERS IN THE U.S. ARMY: RESULTS FROM THE ARMY STUDY TO ASSESS RISK AND RESILIENCE IN SERVICEMEMBERS (ARMY STARRS).

Study

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of suicide among U.S. Army soldiers has risen dramatically in recent years. Prior studies suggest that most soldiers with suicidal behaviors (i.e., ideation, plans, and attempts) had first onsets prior to enlistment. However, those data are based on retrospective self-reports of soldiers later in their Army careers. Unbiased examination of this issue requires investigation of suicidality among new soldiers. METHOD: The New Soldier Study (NSS) of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) used fully structured self-administered measures to estimate preenlistment histories of suicide ideation, plans, and attempts among new soldiers reporting for Basic Combat Training in 2011-2012. Survival models examined sociodemographic correlates of each suicidal outcome. RESULTS: Lifetime prevalence estimates of preenlistment suicide ideation, plans, and attempts were 14.1, 2.3, and 1.9%, respectively. Most reported onsets of suicide plans and attempts (73.3-81.5%) occurred within the first year after onset of ideation. Odds of these lifetime suicidal behaviors among new soldiers were positively, but weakly associated with being female, unmarried, religion other than Protestant or Catholic, and a race/ethnicity other than non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, or Hispanic. CONCLUSIONS: Lifetime prevalence estimates of suicidal behaviors among new soldiers are consistent with retrospective reports of preenlistment prevalence obtained from soldiers later in their Army careers. Given that prior suicidal behaviors are among the strongest predictors of later suicides, consideration should be given to developing methods of obtaining valid reports of preenlistment suicidality from new soldiers to facilitate targeting of preventive interventions.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: November 01, 2014
  • Citation: Ursano RJ, et. al.,Prevalence and Correlates of Suicidal Behavior Among New Soldiers in the U.S. Army: Results from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members (ARMY STARRS). Depress Anxiety. 2014 Oct

Women in Combat: Framing the Issues of Health and Health Research for America's Servicewomen.

Study

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Although women have served in the U.S. military officially since 1901, the medical needs of women in combat have historically been poorly understood. Recent expansion of the opportunities females may now play in combat roles has created an urgent need for a review of how Department of Defense supports females as they transition into these new roles, as well as current science related to key aspects of the health of female warriors. There is currently no systematic institutional structure in place to regularly and methodically examine gaps in policy, research, and treatment for issues related to women in combat. METHOD: This article serves as a brief overview and introduction to some of the critical topics related to the health of women in combat roles, to include women's health issues research and treatment efforts, physiological differences between sexes, and leadership and unit factors. CONCLUSION: The Department of Defense should continue to explore and address policy, research, and practice related to the complex ongoing needs of military females in combat roles, and ensures sufficient staffing, resources and support from senior military leaders.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: January 01, 2015
  • Citation: Moosey M. Communicating Difficult and Taboo Information: A How-To Guide for Commanders. Mil Med. 2016 Jan;181(1 Suppl):40-3.

Women and exertional heat illness: identification of gender specific risk factors.

Study

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: With the expanding role of women into previously closed combat military occupational specialties, women will likely be exposed more to challenging and extreme conditions. Physical work or exercise in extreme environments could increase the risk for exertional heat illness (EHI) and exertional heat stroke (EHS), the most severe type of EHI. Although men have higher rates of EHS than women, women have slightly higher rates of other EHI. Women may respond differently to exertion in the heat than men, as they typically have higher percentage of body fat (BF%) and lower aerobic power. Further, published pilot-data using the Israeli heat tolerance test (HTT) indicate that women are more likely to be classified as heat intolerant than men. The objectives of the present study were to (1) compare male and female classification patterns of heat tolerance, and (2) identify EHI risk factors that might account for the relationship between heat tolerance classification and sex. METHODS: Fifty-five male and 20 female participants were recruited from military and university communities to participate in a standardized HTT. Subjects underwent measures to calculate anthropometric variables (BF%, body surface area, and waist circumference), a maximal oxygen uptake test to assess aerobic power (VO₂max), and a standardized HTT, which consisted of treadmill walking at 5 km/h at a 2% grade for 120 minutes at 40°C and 40% relative humidity. Heat intolerance was defined as attaining a maximum heart rate (HR) greater than 150 bpm or a core body temperature (Tc) more than 38.5°C. Separate hierarchical regressions were conducted using categorical (heat tolerant/intolerant) and continuous (physiological strain index, maximum HR, Tc) HTT outcomes. Risk factors were identified with and without controlling for sex. RESULTS: Women were 3.7 (95% CI, 1.21-11.24) times more likely to be heat intolerant than men (χ²=6.85, P<.01). Compared to men, women had significantly higher BF% and lower body surface area, waist circumference, and VO₂max. All heat intolerant participants had lower VO₂max and higher BF% than those who were classified as heat tolerant. When VO₂max and BF% were entered into regression equations to predict HTT outcomes, sex became nonsignificant; VO₂max predicted maximum HR and physiological strain index after controlling for sex. CONCLUSION: The present study found that differences between men and women in heat tolerance classification are largely explained by VO₂max. The higher rates of heat intolerance among women likely correlate with higher EHI risk, and underscore the need to understand the physiological and thermoregulatory differences between men and women. As lower aerobic power is a major risk factor for EHI, maximizing the aerobic power of women will be critical to force health protection and readiness as they integrate into combat military occupational specialties.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Release Date/Publication: April 01, 2015
  • Citation: Kazman JB, Purvis DL, Heled Y, Lisman P, Atias D, Van Arsdale S, Deuster PA. Women and exertional heat illness: identification of gender specific risk factors. US Army Med Dep J. 2015 Apr-Jun:58-66.

Willingness to receive a hypothetical avian influenza vaccine among US military personnel in mid-deployment.

Study

Abstract

Though no avian influenza vaccine currently exists, development efforts have increased. Given recent reports of suboptimal vaccination rates among US military personnel, we sought to assess factors associated with a willingness to receive a hypothetical avian influenza vaccine. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by US military personnel during mid-deployment to Iraq, Afghanistan, and surrounding regions. Respondents were predominately male (86.2%), Army (72.1%), and enlisted (86.3%) with a mean age of 29.6 y. The majority (77.1%) agreed to receive an avian influenza vaccine if available. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) identified two factors, vaccine importance and disease risk, that best described the individual perceptions and both were associated with an increased willingness to receive the hypothetical vaccine (OR: 8.2 and 1.6, respectively). Importantly, after controlling for these factors differences in the willingness to receive this hypothetical vaccine were observed across gender and branch of service. These results indicated that targeted education on vaccine safety and efficacy as well as disease risk may modify vaccination patterns in this population.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Agency, office or organization under authority of the Sec Def (not affiliated to Army, Navy, or Air Force)
  • Release Date/Publication: December 01, 2013
  • Citation: Porter CK, Fitamaurice G, Tribble DR, Armstrong AW, Mostafa M, Riddle MS. Willingness to receive a hypothetical avian influenza vaccine among US military personnel in mid-deployment. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013 Dec;9(12):2613-7.

When, If Ever, Should Military Physicians Violate a Military Order to Give Medical Obligations Higher Priority?

Study

Abstract

Military care providers may face ethical conflicts when they must treat their own and enemy soldiers during combat and their resources are limited. Legally under the Geneva Convention, they are instructed to treat enemy soldiers equally, but in practice, providers still have some discretion. This article discusses this discretion and ethical frameworks and uncertainties that bear on these decisions. A case is presented in which this conflict arose. How the provider resolved this is reported.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Release Date/Publication: November 01, 2015
  • Citation: Howe EG. When, If Ever, Should Military Physicians Violate a Military Order to Give Medical Obligations Higher Priority? Mil Med. 2015 Nov;180(11):1118-9. ;180(11):1121-3.

Variation in rates of autoimmune thyroid disease by race/ethnicity in US military personnel.

Study

Abstract

The relationship between Graves disease and race/ethnicity is undefined. Based on thyroid antibody prevalence, the rates of Hashimoto thyroiditis may be highest in whites and lowest in blacks. Using a large and comprehensive data set of medical diagnoses for all US active duty service personnel, we calculated age-standardized incidence rates for Graves disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis by race/ethnicity. Compared with whites, the IRR for Graves disease was significantly elevated in black women (IRR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.56-2.37) and men (IRR, 2.53; 95% CI, 2.01-3.18) and Asian/Pacific Islander women (IRR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.20-2.66) and men (IRR, 3.36; 95% CI, 2.57-4.40) (Figure). In contrast, Hashimoto thyroiditis incidence was highest in whites and lowest in black women (IRR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.21-0.51) and men (IRR, 0.22; 95% CI, 0.11-0.47) and Asian/Pacific Islander women (IRR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.17-0.56) and men (IRR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.07-0.72). The differences in incidence by race/ethnicity may be due to different environmental exposures, genetics, or a combination of both. Our results are not easily attributable to the strongest known environmental risk factor, cigarette smoking.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Undetermined
  • Sponsoring Office:
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source: Government, academic, or industry source other than Federal Government
  • Release Date/Publication: April 01, 2014
  • Citation: McLeod DS, Caturegli P, Cooper DS, Matos PG, Hutfless S. Variation in rates of autoimmune thyroid disease by race/ethnicity in US military personnel. JAMA. 2014 Apr 16;311(15):1563-5.
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