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Military Health System

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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Trends in the diagnosis of SLAP lesions in the US military.

Study

Abstract

PURPOSE: Shoulder pathology, particularly SLAP (superior labrum anterior-posterior) lesions, is prevalent in overhead athletes and physically active individuals. The aim of this study is to quantify the burden of SLAP lesions in the military and establish risk factors for diagnosis. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of all service members diagnosed with a SLAP lesion (International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision code 840.70) in the Defense Medical Epidemiological Database between 2002 and 2009 was performed. Available epidemiological risk factors including age, sex, race, military rank, and branch of service were evaluated using multivariate Poisson regression analysis, and cumulative and subgroup incidence rates were calculated. RESULTS: During the study period, approximately 23,632 SLAP lesions were diagnosed among a population at risk of 11,082,738, resulting in an adjusted incidence rate of 2.13 per 1,000 person-years. The adjusted annual incidence rate for SLAP lesions increased from 0.31 cases per 1,000 person-years in 2002 to 1.88 cases per 1,000 person-years in 2009, with an average annual increase of 21.2 % (95 % CI 20.7 %, 22.0 %, p < 0.0001) during the study period. Age, sex, race, branch of military service, and military rank were independent risk factors associated with the incidence rate of SLAP lesion (p < 0.01). Male service members were over twofold more likely (IRR, 2.12; 95 % CI 2.01, 2.23) to sustain a SLAP lesion when compared with females. Increasing age category was associated with a statistically significant increase in the incidence rate for SLAP lesions in the present study (p < 0.001). After controlling for the other variables, those individuals of white race, enlisted ranks, or Marine Corps service experienced the highest incidence rates for SLAP. CONCLUSION: This is the first study to establish the epidemiology of SLAP lesions within an active military cohort in the American population. Sex, age, race, military rank, and branch of military service were all independently associated with the incidence rate of SLAP lesions in this physically active population at high risk for shoulder injury. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Army
  • Sponsoring Office:
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: December 01, 2013
  • Citation: Waterman BR, Cameron KL, Hsiao M, Langston JR, Clark NJ, Owens BD. Trends in the diagnosis of SLAP lesions in the US military. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2013 Dec 10.

Trends in Mineral Supplement Prescriptions From Military Treatment Facilities: 2007 to 2011.

Study

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Mineral supplements such as calcium and iron are readily available over the counter and are some of the most frequently consumed dietary supplements. Health care providers also prescribe mineral supplements for treatment of certain conditions and to maintain health. OBJECTIVE: This study examines trends in mineral-supplement prescriptions dispensed by military treatment facilities. METHODS: We examined data from the DoD Pharmacy Data Transaction Service to determine the nature of mineral-supplement prescriptions dispensed by MTFs from 2007 through 2011. RESULTS: Overall, 1,785,158 calcium, 844,655 iron, 166,207 magnesium, and 23,297 zinc prescriptions were dispensed over this 5-year period. Although the number of zinc prescriptions decreased considerably by an average of 30% across the 5-year period, calcium and magnesium prescriptions increased by 3% and 8%, respectively. The number of iron prescriptions dispensed was relatively stable across the 5 years. CONCLUSIONS: Patterns of mineral-supplement prescriptions in the military changed over the 5-year period examined. However, the patterns within the DoD medical system may or may not represent those of the civilian medical system. Because we could not determine the reasons why the mineral supplements were prescribed, we cannot report whether the supplements were effective for the intended uses.

  • 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: July 01, 2015
  • Citation: Attipoe S, Jones DR, Olsen CH, Stephens MB, Deuster PA. Trends in Mineral Supplement Prescriptions From Military Treatment Facilities: 2007 to 2011. Mil Med. 2015 Jul;180(7):742-7.

Trends in B-Vitamin Prescriptions From Military Treatment Facilities: 2007 to 2011.

Study

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

  • 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: July 01, 2015
  • Citation: Krieger JA, Arnold RM, Attipoe S, Jones DR, Stephens MB, Deuster PA. Trends in B-Vitamin Prescriptions From Military Treatment Facilities: 2007 to 2011. Mil Med. 2015 Jul;180(7):732-6.

Treatment of active duty military with PTSD in primary care: A follow-up report.

Study

Abstract

First-line trauma-focused therapies offered in specialty mental health clinics do not reach many veterans and active duty service members with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Primary care is an ideal environment to expand access to mental health care. Several promising clinical case series reports of brief PTSD therapies adapted for primary care have shown positive results, but the long-term effectiveness with military members is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term outcome of an open trial of a brief cognitive-behavioral primary care-delivered protocol developed specifically for deployment-related PTSD in a sample of 24 active duty military (15 men, 9 women). Measures of PTSD symptom severity showed statistically and clinically significant reductions from baseline to posttreatment that were maintained at the 6-month and 1-year follow-up assessments. Similar reductions were maintained in depressive symptoms and ratings of global mental health functioning.

  • 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: December 01, 2015
  • Citation: Cigrang JA, Rauch SA, Mintz J, Brundige A, Avila LL, Bryan CJ, Goodie JL, Peterson AL; STRONG STAR Consortium. Treatment of active duty military with PTSD in primary care: A follow-up report. J Anxiety Disord. 2015 Dec;36:110-4.

Trends in Androgen Prescriptions From Military Treatment Facilities: 2007 to 2011.

Study

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The role of testosterone in health and quality of life has become increasingly visible and overtly marketed to the public. Some evidence suggests that testosterone levels in men may be low because of a variety of reasons, including stress and environmental exposures. OBJECTIVE: This study examines trends in testosterone prescriptions dispensed by military treatment facilities (MTFs). METHODS: We examined data from the Department of Defense Pharmacy Data Transaction Service to determine the nature of androgen prescriptions dispensed through MTFs from 2007 through 2011. RESULTS: The number of androgen prescriptions increased more than two-fold across the military from 19,494 in 2007 to 45,270 in 2011. Most prescriptions (99%) were for men. Androgen prescription rates rose 23% per year from 2007 through 2011 (p < 0.001, CI 23-24%). The prescription rate for 35- to 44-year-olds increased more than any other age group, with annual increases averaging 33% (p < 0.001, CI 32-34%). CONCLUSION: The number of androgen prescriptions within MTFs rose significantly from 2007 through 2011. This is similar to rises in androgen prescriptions seen in civilian medical systems. Clinical indications for the sharp increase in testosterone prescriptions are unknown, and the indications for clinically appropriate testosterone replacement need further clarification.

  • 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: July 01, 2015
  • Citation: Canup R, Bogenberger K, Attipoe S, Jones DR, Olsen CH, Stephens MB, Deuster PA. Trends in Androgen Prescriptions From Military Treatment Facilities: 2007 to 2011. Mil Med. 2015 Jul;180(7):728-31.

Transfusion for shock in US military war casualties with and without tourniquet use.

Study

Abstract

We assess whether emergency tourniquet use for transfused war casualties admitted to military hospitals is associated with survival.

  • 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: March 01, 2015
  • Citation: Kragh JF Jr, Nam JJ, Berry KA, Mase VJ Jr, Aden JK 3rd, Walters TJ, Dubick MA, Baer DG, Wade CE, Blackbourne LH. Transfusion for shock in US military war casualties with and without tourniquet use. Ann Emerg Med. 2015 Mar;65(3):290-6.

Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence: 30-year trend in an HIV-infected US military cohort.

Study

Abstract

To determine if Toxoplasma gondii IgG antibody prevalence is declining in HIV-infected persons, we analyzed data (1984-2013) from the US Military HIV Natural History Study. We found that T. gondii seroprevalence at enrollment was associated with age and decreased significantly after 1995 (P=0.004), similar to the general US 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:
  • Release Date/Publication: January 01, 2016
  • Citation: O'Bryan TA, Okulicz JF, Bradley WP, Ganesan A, Merritt SE, Agan BK. Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence: 30-year trend in an HIV-infected US military cohort. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2016 Jan;84(1):34-5.

Three-year outcome following moderate-to-severe TBI in U.S. military service members: a descriptive cross-sectional study.

Study

Abstract

This study examined the prospective course of neurobehavioral symptom reporting and health-related quality of life within the first 3 years following moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Participants were 52 U.S. service members who were evaluated following a moderate-to-severe TBI sustained in the combat theater during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (90.4%), or from other noncombat-related incidents. Participants completed the Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder-Checklist within 3 months postinjury, and at least one follow-up telephone interview at 12 (n = 27), 24 (n = 31), or 36 months (n = 22) postinjury. Approximately half of the sample (41.9%-63.0%) reported "persistent" symptoms from baseline to follow-up. A substantial minority also "improved" (22.2%-31.8%) or "developed" new symptoms (3.7%-16.1%). Ongoing physical and mental health problems were also reported. The number of service members receiving mental health treatment significantly reduced between 12 and 36 months postinjury (48.1%-18.2%), while complaints of bodily pain significantly increased (40.7%-68.2%). Despite ongoing symptom reporting, few reported suicidal/homicidal ideation (6.5%-9.1%), and a substantial majority reported good/excellent health status (74.1%-90.9%) and satisfaction with their life (81.5%-90.9%). Continued support and care for all service members who sustain a combat-related moderate-to-severe TBI is recommended, regardless of the presence or absence of symptom reporting within the first few months postinjury.

  • 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: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Release Date/Publication: August 01, 2014
  • Citation: Brickell TA, Lange RT, French LM. Three-year outcome following moderate-to-severe TBI in U.S. military service members: a descriptive cross-sectional study. Mil Med. 2014 Aug;179(8):839-48.

Third-Party Evaluation: A Review of Dietary Supplements Dispensed by Military Treatment Facilities From 2007 to 2011.

Study

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Third-party certification/verification of dietary supplements (DS), although not mainstream, is one way to help ensure high-quality products. In the medical setting, physicians may prescribe DS to correct a deficiency or improve a health care outcome, and they want products of a certain standard of quality, free of adulteration/contamination. OBJECTIVE: We reviewed DS dispensed from all Department of Defense military treatment facilities over a 5-year period to determine which products had been third-party reviewed and certified/verified. METHODS: By using product name, manufacturer, and/or National Drug Codes, we examined product listings on the websites of three independent-evaluating organizations. RESULTS: Over 1.5 million dietary supplement prescriptions consisting of 753 different products were dispensed from 2007 through 2011. Less than 3.6% of the products examined were third-party certified/verified by any of the three most well-known evaluation organizations: 19 were verified by United States Pharmacopeial Convention; 9 products were reviewed and 8 certified by ConsumerLab; and none of the products were certified by NSF International. CONCLUSION: Most DS dispensed by military treatment facilities are not reviewed by a third party. This is not unexpected, as third party certification is not yet mainstream. However, one way to reduce potential hazards and exposure to unsafe products is to encourage use of supplements that have third-party certification/verification.

  • 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: July 01, 2015
  • Citation: Jones DR, Kasper KB, Deuster PA. Third-Party Evaluation: A Review of Dietary Supplements Dispensed by Military Treatment Facilities From 2007 to 2011. Mil Med. 2015 Jul;180(7):737-41.

The vital civilian-military link in combat casualty care research: Impact of attendance at scientific conferences.

Study

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Attendance by military medical personnel (MMP) at scientific meetings (SMs) of civilian associations has been centrally managed since 2012. We aimed to document the importance of civilian-military interaction to and the impact of this change on combat casualty care (CCC) research. METHODS: (1) We identified 25 clinically significant CCC articles published by MMP between 2005 and 2014; we determined whether these articles were preceded by presentation by MMP at an SM. (2) We examined the changing civilian-military mix of publications on "damage control resuscitation" (DCR). (3) We analyzed the number of presentations by MMP each year at the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. (4) We reviewed whether past presidents of the AAST (for 1992-2014) had military experience. RESULTS: (1) Ninety-two percent of the CCC articles were previously presented at an SM; 66% were presented at civilian association venues such as AAST. (2) DCR was first described in 2006; the civilian-military mix of publications rose steadily from 0 in 2006 to 80% in 2014. (3) The number of MMP oral presentations at AAST peaked during 2005 to 2007 and has declined to one to two per year since 2012. (4) Thirty-three percent of recent AAST presidents had military experience, versus 100% for the previous era. CONCLUSION: Recent conflicts led to intense civilian-military collaboration in CCC research and to the spread of ideas such as DCR from military to civilian care. However, long-term trends (e.g., declining rates of military service nationally) place such collaboration at risk. Vigorous efforts to foster the vital civilian-military link in CCC are needed. PMID: 26406434 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • 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: October 01, 2015
  • Citation: Cancio LC, Rasmussen TE, Cannon JW, Dubick MA. The vital civilian-military link in combat casualty care research: Impact of attendance at scientific conferences. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2015 Oct;79(4 Suppl 2):S221-6.

The role of performance validity tests in the assessment of cognitive functioning after military concussion: A replication and extension.

Study

Abstract

The current investigation is a replication and extension of a previously published study by Cooper, Vanderploeg, Armistead-Jehle, Lewis, and Bowles (2014) demonstrating that performance validity test scores accounted for more variance in cognitive testing among service members with a history of concussion than did demographic variables, etiology of and time since injury, and symptom severity. The present study included a sample of 142 active-duty service members evaluated following a suspected or confirmed history of mild traumatic brain injury. Participants completed a battery of neuropsychological measures that included scales of performance and symptom validity (specifically the Medical Symptom Validity Test, Nonverbal Medical Symptom Validity Test, and Personality Assessment Inventory). Among the factors considered in the current study, performance validity test results accounted for the most variance in cognitive test scores, above demographic, concussion history, symptom validity, and psychological distress variables. Performance validity test results were modestly related to symptom validity as measured by the Personality Assessment Inventory Negative Impression Management scale. In sum, the current results replicated the original Cooper et al. study and highlight the importance of including performance validity tests as part of neurocognitive evaluation, even in clinical contexts, within this population.

  • 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: November 01, 2015
  • Citation: Armistead-Jehle P, Cooper DB, Vanderploeg RD. The role of performance validity tests in the assessment of cognitive functioning after military concussion: A replication and extension. Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2015 Nov 16:1-10.

The potential utility of urinary biomarkers for risk prediction in combat casualties: a prospective observational cohort study.

Study

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Traditional risk scoring prediction models for trauma use either anatomically based estimations of injury or presenting vital signs. Markers of organ dysfunction may provide additional prognostic capability to these models. The objective of this study was to evaluate if urinary biomarkers are associated with poor outcomes, including death and the need for renal replacement therapy. METHODS: We conducted a prospective, observational study in United States Military personnel with traumatic injury admitted to the intensive care unit at a combat support hospital in Afghanistan. RESULTS: Eighty nine patients with urine samples drawn at admission to the intensive care unit were studied. Twelve patients subsequently died or needed renal replacement therapy. Median admission levels of urinary cystatin C (CyC), interleukin 18 (IL-18), L-type fatty acid binding protein (LFABP) and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) were significantly higher in patients that developed the combined outcome of death or need for renal replacement therapy. Median admission levels of kidney injury molecule-1 were not associated with the combined outcome. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curves for the combined outcome were 0.815, 0.682, 0.842 and 0.820 for CyC, IL-18, LFABP and NGAL, respectively. Multivariable regression adjusted for injury severity score, revealed CyC (OR 1.97, 95 % confidence interval 1.26-3.10, p = 0.003), LFABP (OR 1.92, 95 % confidence interval 1.24-2.99, p = 0.004) and NGAL (OR 1.80, 95 % confidence interval 1.21-2.66, p = 0.004) to be significantly associated with the composite outcome. CONCLUSIONS: Urinary biomarker levels at the time of admission are associated with death or need for renal replacement therapy. Larger multicenter studies will be required to determine how urinary biomarkers can best be used in future prediction models.

  • 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: Air Force
  • Release Date/Publication: June 01, 2015
  • Citation: Stewart IJ, et. al., The potential utility of urinary biomarkers for risk prediction in combat casualties: a prospective observational cohort study. Crit Care. 2015 Jun 16;19:252.

The Millennium Cohort Family Study: a prospective evaluation of the health and well-being of military service members and their families.

Study

Abstract

The need to understand the impact of war on military families has never been greater than during the past decade, with more than three million military spouses and children affected by deployments to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Understanding the impact of the recent conflicts on families is a national priority, however, most studies have examined spouses and children individually, rather than concurrently as families. The Department of Defense (DoD) has recently initiated the largest study of military families in US military history (the Millennium Cohort Family Study), which includes dyads of military service members and their spouses (n > 10,000). This study includes US military families across the globe with planned follow-up for 21+ years to evaluate the impact of military experiences on families, including both during and after military service time. This review provides a comprehensive description of this landmark study including details on the research objectives, methodology, survey instrument, ancillary data sets, and analytic plans. The Millennium Cohort Family Study offers a unique opportunity to define the challenges that military families experience, and to advance the understanding of protective and vulnerability factors for designing training and treatment programs that will benefit military families today and into the future.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Navy
  • Sponsoring Office:
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: October 01, 2014
  • Citation: Crum-Cianflone NF, Fairbank JA, Marmar CR, Schlenger W. The Millennium Cohort Family Study: a prospective evaluation of the health and well-being of military service members and their families. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 2014 Sep;23(3):320-30.

The Interactive Effects of the Capability for Suicide and Major Depressive Episodes on Suicidal Behavior in a Military Sample.

Study

Abstract

Major depressive symptoms represent a significant risk for suicidal ideation and behavior. Given that suicide is fearsome, the interpersonal theory of suicide proposes that individuals who engage in suicidal behavior possess not only the desire to die, but also the acquired capability (AC) for suicide. This study examined whether major depressive episodes (MDEs) may be particularly relevant to suicidal behavior when considered in the context of AC. History of MDEs, AC, and suicide attempt history were examined in a large (n=3,377) sample of military members. Data were analyzed using hierarchical multiple regression. Results indicated that among individuals with high AC, the number of MDEs was significantly, positively associated with number of previous suicide attempts; MDEs were not significantly related to suicide attempt history among individuals with low AC. Findings held in the presence of robust covariates associated with suicidal behavior. Findings suggest that a history of MDEs alone may not indicate severe suicide risk - increased AC for suicide appears necessary for increased suicide risk. Implications for suicide treatment and prevention in military personnel are discussed.

  • Publication Status: Published
  • Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)
  • Sponsoring Office:
  • Congressionally Mandated: No
  • Funding Source:
  • Release Date/Publication: February 01, 2016
  • Citation: Chu C, Podlogar M, Hagan CR, Buchman-Schmitt JM, Silva C, Chiurliza B, et.al., The Interactive Effects of the Capability for Suicide and Major Depressive Episodes on Suicidal Behavior in a Military Sample. Cognit Ther Res. 2016 Feb;40(1):22-30.

The Importance of Military Cultural Competence.

Study

Abstract

Military cultural competence has recently gained national attention. Experts have posited that limited outcomes in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in the military may be related to limited familiarity with the military. National surveys have indicated low military cultural competence among providers and limited educational efforts on military culture or pertinent military pathology in medical schools and residency training programs. Military families, with their own unique military cultural identity, have been identified as a population with increased risks associated with deployment. In response to these findings, several curricula regarding military culture have been established and widely distributed. Assessments of military cultural competence have also been developed. The clinical impact of enhanced cultural competence in general has thus far been limited. The military, however, with its highly prescribed cultural identity, may be a model culture for further study.

  • 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: February 01, 2016
  • Citation: Meyer EG, Writer BW, Brim W. The Importance of Military Cultural Competence. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016 Mar;18(3):26.
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Last Updated: September 21, 2022
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