RAND Corporation researchers developed the Women's Reproductive Health Survey to address congressional legislation requiring a survey about access to family planning and counseling services among U.S. Department of Defense active-duty service women. This report describes the methodology, sample demographics, and results from the survey.
The Women's Reproductive Health Survey of Active-Duty Service Members
The Women's Reproductive Health Survey (WRHS) of active-duty service members represents the first time since the 1990s that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has sponsored a department-wide survey of only service women. Maintaining the readiness of the U.S. armed forces requires attention to the health and health care needs of all who serve, including active-duty service women. With respect to reproductive health, Congress passed two pieces of legislation in the 2016 and 2017 National Defense Authorization Acts that required DoD to provide active-duty service women access to comprehensive family planning and counseling services and to do so at predeployment and annual physical exams. The legislation also required DoD to conduct a survey of active-duty service women's experiences with family planning services and counseling and use and availability of preferred birth control methods.
RAND Corporation researchers developed the WRHS to address these two pieces of congressional legislation. The survey was conducted between early August and early November 2020, and spanned a number of domains: health care utilization, birth control and contraceptive use, reproductive health during training and deployment, fertility and pregnancy, and infertility. The Coast Guard requested that RAND also field the survey among its active-duty service women. Differences are examined by service branch, pay grade, age group, race/ethnicity, marital status, and sexual orientation. The results are intended to inform policy initiatives to help support the readiness, health, and well-being of active-duty service women.
Photo by the U.S. Department of the Air Force