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Aims: To identify sociodemographic and occupational determinants of knee related disability discharge from the US Army among enlisted women, and to investigate effect modification.
Methods: A case-control study of 692 cases of knee related disability discharge and 2080 incidence density matched controls nested within the population of all 244 000 enlisted women on active duty in the US Army, 1980–97. We used logistic regression to identify determinants of disability, stratified to explore effect modification by demographic and work characteristics.
Results: The risk of disability discharge was twice as high (odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.71 to 3.47) for the oldest (33–60 years) versus the youngest (17–21 years) women. Non-whites had lower risk than whites (OR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.41 to 0.60), as did married (OR 0.7, 95% CI: 0.54 to 0.81) relative to non-married women. Those of lower rank (pay grades E1–E3) were at five times the risk of disability discharge compared to those of higher ranks (pay grades E4–E9, OR 5.0, 95% CI: 2.86 to 8.33), while ORs were highest for those with longer duration of service compared to women on active duty for a year or less (OR 1.4, 95% CI: 0.8 to 2.55 after 12 years). Race modified several effects, including that of rank. Age, duration of service, and pay grade were too highly correlated to draw firm conclusions about their independent modifying effects on risk of disability discharge from the Army.
Conclusions: Sociodemographic factors had larger effects than occupational characteristics on risk of knee related disability discharge from the US Army. Interactions suggest subgroups at differing risk levels that might be targeted for more detailed investigations.