Preventing Health Damaging Behaviors and Negative Health Outcomes in Army and Marine Corps Personnel during the First Tour of Duty

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Investigator: Cherrie B. Boyer, PhD
Sponsor: DOD U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA)

Location(s): United States

Description

Health damaging behaviors of young military personnel are reflections of health problems facing all young people in the U.S. Military life presents opportunities and challenges that may both protect and place young troops at risk for health damaging behaviors. Challenges for maintaining a healthy armed force include high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancies (UIPs), misuse of alcohol/substances, and personal sexual violence defined as violence within one’s personal (dating or marital) relationships. The common thread through these negative health outcomes is volitional behavior. Such behaviors do not only result in illness or injury, but also negatively impact performance of military duties and threaten military readiness. Despite military leadership in setting standards and policies regarding professional behavior and universal health care for preventing and eliminating such negative health outcomes, many health problems remain. Building on our previous military research, we plan to develop and evaluate a cognitive-behavioral, skills-building intervention to prevent and reduce young troops' risk for STIs, UIPs, alcohol/substance misuse, and personal sexual violence. This research also seeks to establish the best training practices for educating young troops about health issues that impact military performance and readiness. Finally, it will have direct implications for healt h promotion and disease prevention education strategies designed to reach military men and women early in their careers