Apr 28, 2021
DoD Health Related Behaviors Survey for active component service members
7.6% identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB)
Significantly greater percentages of LGB personnel than non-LGB personnel reported serious psychological distress and probable PTSD, suicidal thoughts and attempts, binge and heavy drinking, e-cigarette and smokeless tobacco use, illicit drug use, and unwanted sexual contact.* These results are not specific to the Navy.
* Unwanted sexual contact in the HRBS is a broader construct than sexual assault, and these survey responses do not represent official reports of sexual assault.
71.7% reported at least one prior combat or noncombat deployment
Among those who had ever deployed:
The Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) is the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) flagship survey for understanding the health, health-related behaviors, and well-being of service members.
The 2018 HRBS shows that active component sailors nearly met Healthy People 2020 goals for normal weight and met these goals for obesity. At the same time, sailors had several health challenges.
Sailors reported binge and heavy drinking levels that were greater than those for the general population. Their levels of use of tobacco or nicotine products also exceeded those for the general population and applicable Healthy People 2020 goals. Their levels of serious psychological distress and probable PTSD were greater than those for the general population. Their levels of suicidal ideation and attempts were also greater than those for the general population.
Development of military-appropriate population benchmarks, especially by service branch, could facilitate goal-setting, command visibility, and incremental improvements in health-related readiness.
A low overall response rate (8.3 percent for the Navy and 9.6 percent across all services) suggests that the results should be interpreted with caution and in conjunction with other existing data. Use of targeted incentives, modules administered to subsets of respondents, or a service member panel survey could help improve response rates and representation. The above comparisons with the general adult population do not control for demographic differences between the two populations.
Adapted from 2018 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS): Results for the Active Component, by Sarah O. Meadows, Charles C. Engel, Rebecca L. Collins, Robin L. Beckman, Joshua Breslau, Erika Litvin Bloom, Michael Stephen Dunbar, Mary Lou Gilbert, David Grant, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Stephanie Brooks Holliday, Sarah MacCarthy, Eric R. Pedersen, Michael W. Robbins, Adam J. Rose, Jamie Ryan, Terry L. Schell, and Molly Simmons, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, RR-4222-OSD, 2021. The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. RAND is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest. For the complete report detailing these and other findings, visit www.rand.org/t/RR4222.
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