Association between mental health conditions diagnosed during initial eligibility for military health care benefits and subsequent deployment, attrition, and death by suicide among active duty service members

Col Robert R. Ireland, Amii M. Kress, Lucinda Z. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To examine incidence of mental health diagnoses during initial service of U.S. active duty military members and identify associations with deployment, attrition, and suicide. Methods: A retrospective cohort of 576,502 service members (SMs) newly enlisted between 2003 and 2006 was identified. Data included medical encounter, deployment and attrition, and suicide. Multivariable logistic regression models examine the association between mental health diagnoses coded within the SMs' first 6 months of eligibility for health care benefits and deployment. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models quantify the association between mental health diagnoses and attrition and suicide. Results: The cumulative incidence of mental health diagnoses was approximately 9% at 6 months of service. Adjustment, depressive, and anxiety disorders were most common. Those with any mental health diagnosis during initial eligibility had increased risk of early attrition and were 77% less likely to deploy. Early mental health diagnoses were not statistically significantly associated with death by suicide. Conclusion: Mental health diagnoses during initial eligibility are common and associated with reduced odds of deployment and increased risk of early attrition. Policies designed to either retain or discharge SMs with a mental health diagnosis identified during initial training merit close examination in light of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1156
Number of pages8
JournalMilitary medicine
Volume177
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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