Introduction: Few studies have evaluated possible racial/ethnic disparities in chronic disease prevalence among US Air Force activeduty members. Because members have equal access to free health care and preventive screening, the presence of health disparities in this population could offer new insight into the source of these disparities. Our objective was to identify whether the prevalence of 4 common chronic diseases differed by race/ethnicity in this population. Methods: We compiled de-identified clinical and administrative data for Air Force members aged 21 or older who had been on active duty for at least 12 months as of October 2008 (N = 284,850). Multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine the prevalence of hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, and asthma by race/ethnicity, controlling for rank and sex. Results: Hypertension was the most prevalent chronic condition (5.3%), followed by dyslipidemia (4.6%), asthma (0.9%), and diabetes (0.3%). Significant differences were noted by race/ethnicity for all conditions. Compared with non-Hispanic whites, the prevalence of all chronic diseases was higher for non-Hispanic blacks; disparities for adults of other minority race/ethnicity categories were evident but less consistent. Conclusion: The existence of racial/ethnic disparities among active-duty Air Force members, despite equal access to free health care, indicates that premilitary health risks continue after enlistment. Racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence of these chronic diseases suggest the need to ensure preventive health care practices and community outreach efforts are effective for racial/ethnic minorities, particularly non-Hispanic blacks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health