ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Public Health Center released the sixth annual Health of the Force report June 1. The report focuses on Active Component Soldiers and presents Army-wide and installation-level data for more than 20 medical, wellness, and environmental indicators.
The report analyzes calendar year 2019 data, so impacts from the pandemic are not assessed in this iteration. However, the report includes tips to maintain social health and reduce loneliness during times of isolation and discusses the use of modeling as a tool in the fight against COVID-19.
While trends in metric data remain consistent with previous year findings, the report includes 30 new spotlight vignette topics to provide context using health and readiness data, best practices, and emerging health issues, said the report’s program manager, Dr. Lisa Ruth, APHC Population Health Reporting Program.
Some vignette topics include: reducing excessive alcohol use, how a lack of sexual orientation data hampers the health of the Force, impacts of tobacco use on physical performance, transforming healthy food options on Army installations, and awareness of climate hazards in the U.S.
The 2020 Health of the Force is the first edition to include metrics stratified by race and ethnicity with the goal of identifying potential health disparities and providing leaders with the data to support policies or programs aimed at reducing these disparities throughout the Force, said Ruth. Decisions on the optimal way to include race and ethnicity data were made in consultation with APHC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council and are based on Office of Management and Budget guidelines.
The report includes a featured vignette, “No Longer Seeing Green: Why Acknowledging Racial/Ethnic Differences is Key to Addressing Health Disparities”, which outlines actions to reduce racial/ethnic disparities throughout the Army Enterprise.
The vignette underscores the importance of reporting health outcomes and healthcare utilization patterns by race/ethnicity to determine if disparities exist, said Ruth. This year’s data demonstrate the most pronounced racial and ethnic disparities are in the areas of obesity, tobacco product use, and sexually transmitted infections.
The purpose of the report is to empower Army senior leaders with knowledge and context to improve Soldier health and readiness, said Shaina Zobel, Health of the Force product manager.
“The range of health metrics detailed in Health of the Force provides an evidence-based resource that can help Army leaders understand the causes of and contributors to medical non-readiness and direct informed policy and programmatic efforts to optimize Soldier health,” said Zobel.
“Leaders can use Health of the Force to optimize health promotion measures and effect culture changes that influence both individual Soldiers and Army institutions.”
In addition to the print version, new data will soon be published on Health of the Force Online, a suite of interactive dashboards that provide Army Soldier population health data by installation and command and enhance the print report. This website requires CAC access and is hosted by DHA CarePoint.
In 2020, Health of the Force Online received an extensive update of design, content, and usability, said Ruth. Users can dynamically display health outcomes and drill down on characteristics and subpopulations with over 70 interactive charts, graphs, and informative narratives across medical and environmental content areas.
“Our team is proud to create a suite of products that can be used together to facilitate informed decisions that positively impact readiness, health and well-being of Soldiers and the total Army Family,” said Ruth.
Readers are encouraged to provide feedback or seek more specific consultative services by contacting the APHC Health of the Force team through the “Contact Us” button on the APHC Health of the Force website, which also provides links to all previous year reports.
To read the 2020 Health of the Force report visit: http://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/campaigns/hof.
The Army Public Health Center enhances Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and assuring the quality and effectiveness of the Army’s Public Health Enterprise.