Apr 28, 2021
DoD Health Related Behaviors Survey for reserve component service members
3.6% 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; 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 Coast Guard 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.
62.5% 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 Coast Guard reservists were comparable to the general population and met Healthy People 2020 goals in some areas but fell short in others.
The percentage of Coast Guard reservists who were obese met the Healthy People 2020 goal. However, the percentage who were at a healthy weight was too low and, therefore, did not meet the Healthy People 2020 goal. Nearly half of Coast Guard reservists did not get an appropriate amount of sleep, falling short of the Healthy People 2020 target.
The percentages of Coast Guard reservists who engaged in binge and heavy drinking exceeded those for the general population, and the percentage who reported binge drinking did not meet the Healthy People 2020 goal. The percentage of Coast Guard reservists who used cigarettes met the Healthy People 2020 goal and was below that of the general population. The percentage who used smokeless tobacco exceeded that of the general population and did not meet the Healthy People 2020 goal.
Levels of psychological distress among Coast Guard reservists were lower than those for the general population, while the level of probable PTSD was higher. The percentages of Coast Guard reservists who reported suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts were at or below 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 (15.6 percent for the Coast Guard 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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