Service-Connected Life Trajectory Comparison of Psychiatric Aeromedical Evacuation and Non-Psychiatric Aeromedical Evacuation Patients From 2001 to 2015


Assess the long-term impact that emergency psychiatric evacuations from combat zones have on active duty service members.

Numerous epidemiological research studies have been conducted on the military population, but relatively little research has looked at psychiatric aeromedical evacuations from deployed settings. Thus, the long-term impact of these evacuations is not known.

A previous STRONG STAR-affiliated study, OIF/OEF Psychiatric MEDEVACS, examined the career impacts and risk factors for a sample of nearly 10,000 U.S. military personnel who received a psychiatric aeromedical evacuation from Iraq or Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013. That study found that more than half had separated from active duty, were discharged, or were on temporary disability retirement status at the time of the analysis. And it found no relationship between severity of an evacuee’s condition and the reason for separation or discharge. This suggests that psychiatric aeromedical evacuation from the combat zone is often a military career-ending event.

Comparison groups

This new STRONG STAR-affiliated, retrospective study will build on the previous one by adding comparison groups. The research team will analyze the long-term physical and mental health outcomes among active duty service members with and without deployment experience and those with and without history of aeromedical evacuation.

The study team hypothesizes that they will find differences in long-term adverse physical and mental health outcomes between service members aeromedically evacuated from theater for psychiatric reasons, those aeromedically evacuated from theater for non-psychiatric reasons, those never evacuated from combat, and those who never deployed.

The analysis will include data from sample groups of individuals who served in the U.S. military between Jan. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2015. It will be based on data obtained from multiple sources within the U.S. Department of Defense, including the TRANSCOM Regulating and Command & Control Evaluation System, Defense Manpower Data Center, Defense Health Agency, and Air Evacuation Registry.

Clarifying the long-term impact

The investigators believe that the analysis comparing military personnel with a variety of service histories will provide an even clearer picture of the long-term impact of psychiatric aeromedical evacuation. They believe that could influence the military to recommend treatment of some psychiatric patients in theater, which could prevent some evacuations as well as make evacuation flights safer for patients and crews. Results of this study also may help the military to clarify current aeromedical evacuation guidelines, develop improved screening tools and standards of care, and enhance training.

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