Apr 28, 2021
DoD Health Related Behaviors Survey for reserve component service members
8.0% 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; cigarette, e-cigarette, and smokeless tobacco use; illicit drug use; unwanted sexual contact;* and having been physically assaulted. These results are not specific to the Navy Reserve.
* 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.
70.8% 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 Navy reservists were comparable to the general population in some areas but fell short of Healthy People 2020 goals in others.
Navy reservists were comparable to the general population in body weight. The percentage of Navy reservists who were obese was low and easily met the Healthy People 2020 goal. However, the percentage who were at a healthy weight was too low and, therefore, did not meet this Healthy People 2020 goal. Most Navy reservists did not get enough sleep and fell short of the Healthy People 2020 target.
Their levels of binge and heavy drinking were comparable to those of the general population, but their level of binge drinking did not meet the Healthy People 2020 goal. The percentage of Navy reservists who smoked cigarettes met the Healthy People 2020 goal, but the percentages who used smokeless tobacco did not. The percentage of Navy reservists who used any tobacco or nicotine product was also higher than for the general population.
The levels of distress and probable PTSD were higher among Navy reservists than among the general population. The percentages of Navy reservists who reported suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts were comparable to 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 (12.0 percent for the Navy Reserve and 9.4 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 Reserve 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 M. Simmons, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, RR-4228-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/RR4228.
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