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1.  Risk of Diabetes in U.S. Military Service Members in Relation to Combat Deployment and Mental Health 
Diabetes Care  2010;33(8):1771-1777.
Few prospective data exist on the risk of diabetes in individuals serving in the U.S. military. The objectives of this study were to determine whether military deployment, combat exposures, and mental health conditions were related to the risk of newly reported diabetes over 3 years.
Data were from Millennium Cohort Study participants who completed baseline (July 2001–June 2003) and follow-up (June 2004–February 2006) questionnaires (follow-up response rate = 71.4%). After exclusion criteria were applied, adjusted analyses included 44,754 participants (median age 36 years, range 18–68 years). Survey instruments collected demographics, height, weight, lifestyle, military service, clinician-diagnosed diabetes, and other physical and mental health conditions. Deployment was defined by U.S. Department of Defense databases, and combat exposure was assessed by self-report at follow-up. Odds of newly reported diabetes were estimated using logistic regression analysis.
Occurrence of diabetes during follow-up was 3 per 1,000 person-years. Individuals reporting diabetes at follow-up were significantly older, had greater baseline BMI, and were less likely to be Caucasian. After adjustment for age, sex, BMI, education, race/ethnicity, military service characteristics, and mental health conditions, only baseline posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was significantly associated with risk of diabetes (odds ratio 2.07 [95% CI 1.31–3.29]). Deployments since September 2001 were not significantly related to higher diabetes risk, with or without combat exposure.
In this military cohort, PTSD symptoms at baseline but not other mental health symptoms or military deployment experience were significantly associated with future risk of self-reported diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2909060  PMID: 20484134
2.  Health impact of US military service in a large population-based military cohort: findings of the Millennium Cohort Study, 2001-2008 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:69.
Combat-intense, lengthy, and multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have characterized the new millennium. The US military's all-volunteer force has never been better trained and technologically equipped to engage enemy combatants in multiple theaters of operations. Nonetheless, concerns over potential lasting effects of deployment on long-term health continue to mount and are yet to be elucidated. This report outlines how findings from the first 7 years of the Millennium Cohort Study have helped to address health concerns related to military service including deployments.
The Millennium Cohort Study was designed in the late 1990s to address veteran and public concerns for the first time using prospectively collected health and behavioral data.
Over 150 000 active-duty, reserve, and National Guard personnel from all service branches have enrolled, and more than 70% of the first 2 enrollment panels submitted at least 1 follow-up survey. Approximately half of the Cohort has deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Millennium Cohort Study is providing prospective data that will guide public health policymakers for years to come by exploring associations between military exposures and important health outcomes. Strategic studies aim to identify, reduce, and prevent adverse health outcomes that may be associated with military service, including those related to deployment.
PMCID: PMC3041662  PMID: 21281496
3.  Exploratory factor analysis of self-reported symptoms in a large, population-based military cohort 
US military engagements have consistently raised concern over the array of health outcomes experienced by service members postdeployment. Exploratory factor analysis has been used in studies of 1991 Gulf War-related illnesses, and may increase understanding of symptoms and health outcomes associated with current military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The objective of this study was to use exploratory factor analysis to describe the correlations among numerous physical and psychological symptoms in terms of a smaller number of unobserved variables or factors.
The Millennium Cohort Study collects extensive self-reported health data from a large, population-based military cohort, providing a unique opportunity to investigate the interrelationships of numerous physical and psychological symptoms among US military personnel. This study used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a large, population-based military cohort. Exploratory factor analysis was used to examine the covariance structure of symptoms reported by approximately 50,000 cohort members during 2004-2006. Analyses incorporated 89 symptoms, including responses to several validated instruments embedded in the questionnaire. Techniques accommodated the categorical and sometimes incomplete nature of the survey data.
A 14-factor model accounted for 60 percent of the total variance in symptoms data and included factors related to several physical, psychological, and behavioral constructs. A notable finding was that many factors appeared to load in accordance with symptom co-location within the survey instrument, highlighting the difficulty in disassociating the effects of question content, location, and response format on factor structure.
This study demonstrates the potential strengths and weaknesses of exploratory factor analysis to heighten understanding of the complex associations among symptoms. Further research is needed to investigate the relationship between factor analytic results and survey structure, as well as to assess the relationship between factor scores and key exposure variables.
PMCID: PMC2967557  PMID: 20950474
4.  Early mortality experience in a large military cohort and a comparison of mortality data sources 
Complete and accurate ascertainment of mortality is critically important in any longitudinal study. Tracking of mortality is particularly essential among US military members because of unique occupational exposures (e.g., worldwide deployments as well as combat experiences). Our study objectives were to describe the early mortality experience of Panel 1 of the Millennium Cohort, consisting of participants in a 21-year prospective study of US military service members, and to assess data sources used to ascertain mortality.
A population-based random sample (n = 256,400) of all US military service members on service rosters as of October 1, 2000, was selected for study recruitment. Among this original sample, 214,388 had valid mailing addresses, were not in the pilot study, and comprised the group referred to in this study as the invited sample. Panel 1 participants were enrolled from 2001 to 2003, represented all armed service branches, and included active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard members. Crude death rates, as well as age- and sex-adjusted overall and age-adjusted, category-specific death rates were calculated and compared for participants (n = 77,047) and non-participants (n = 137,341) based on data from the Social Security Administration Death Master File, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) files, and the Department of Defense Medical Mortality Registry, 2001-2006. Numbers of deaths identified by these three data sources, as well as the National Death Index, were compared for 2001-2004.
There were 341 deaths among the participants for a crude death rate of 80.7 per 100,000 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI]: 72.2,89.3) compared to 820 deaths and a crude death rate of 113.2 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI: 105.4, 120.9) for non-participants. Age-adjusted, category-specific death rates highlighted consistently higher rates among study non-participants. Although there were advantages and disadvantages for each data source, the VA mortality files identified the largest number of deaths (97%).
The difference in crude and adjusted death rates between Panel 1 participants and non-participants may reflect healthier segments of the military having the opportunity and choosing to participate. In our study population, mortality information was best captured using multiple data sources.
PMCID: PMC2887816  PMID: 20492737
5.  Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems Before and After Military Combat Deployment 
High rates of alcohol misuse after deployment have been reported among personnel returning from past conflicts, yet investigations of alcohol misuse after return from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are lacking.
To determine whether deployment with combat exposures was associated with new-onset or continued alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Data were from Millennium Cohort Study participants who completed both a baseline (July 2001 to June 2003; n=77 047) and follow-up (June 2004 to February 2006; n=55 021) questionnaire (follow-up response rate=71.4%). After we applied exclusion criteria, our analyses included 48 481 participants (active duty, n=26 613; Reserve or National Guard, n=21 868). Of these, 5510 deployed with combat exposures, 5661 deployed without combat exposures, and 37 310 did not deploy.
Main Outcome Measures
New-onset and continued heavy weekly drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems at follow-up.
Baseline prevalence of heavy weekly drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems among Reserve or National Guard personnel who deployed with combat exposures was 9.0%, 53.6%, and 15.2%, respectively; follow-up prevalence was 12.5%, 53.0%, and 11.9%, respectively; and new-onset rates were 8.8%, 25.6%, and 7.1%, respectively. Among active-duty personnel, new-onset rates were 6.0%, 26.6%, and 4.8%, respectively. Reserve and National Guard personnel who deployed and reported combat exposures were significantly more likely to experience new-onset heavy weekly drinking (odds ratio [OR], 1.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.36–1.96), binge drinking (OR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.24–1.71), and alcohol-related problems (OR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.33–2.01) compared with nondeployed personnel. The youngest members of the cohort were at highest risk for all alcohol-related outcomes.
Reserve and National Guard personnel and younger service members who deploy with reported combat exposures are at increased risk of new-onset heavy weekly drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol-related problems.
PMCID: PMC2680184  PMID: 18698065
6.  Challenges of self-reported medical conditions and electronic medical records among members of a large military cohort 
Self-reported medical history data are frequently used in epidemiological studies. Self-reported diagnoses may differ from medical record diagnoses due to poor patient-clinician communication, self-diagnosis in the absence of a satisfactory explanation for symptoms, or the "health literacy" of the patient.
The US Department of Defense military health system offers a unique opportunity to evaluate electronic medical records with near complete ascertainment while on active duty. This study compared 38 self-reported medical conditions to electronic medical record data in a large population-based US military cohort. The objective of this study was to better understand challenges and strengths in self-reporting of medical conditions.
Using positive and negative agreement statistics for less-prevalent conditions, near-perfect negative agreement and moderate positive agreement were found for the 38 diagnoses.
This report highlights the challenges of using self-reported medical data and electronic medical records data, but illustrates that agreement between the two data sources increases with increased surveillance period of medical records. Self-reported medical data may be sufficient for ruling out history of a particular condition whereas prevalence studies may be best served by using an objective measure of medical conditions found in electronic healthcare records. Defining medical conditions from multiple sources in large, long-term prospective cohorts will reinforce the value of the study, particularly during the initial years when prevalence for many conditions may still be low.
PMCID: PMC2447848  PMID: 18644098
7.  The long-term hospitalization experience following military service in the 1991 Gulf War among veterans remaining on active duty, 1994–2004 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:60.
Despite more than a decade of extensive, international efforts to characterize and understand the increased symptom and illness-reporting among veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, concern over possible long-term health effects related to this deployment continue. The purpose of this study was to describe the long-term hospitalization experience of the subset of U.S. Gulf War veterans still on active duty between 1994 and 2004.
Gulf War veterans on active duty rosters as of October 1, 1994, were identified (n = 211 642) and compared with veterans who had separated from military service and then assessed for attrition at three-year intervals during a 10-year follow-up period, examining demographic and military service characteristics, Gulf War exposure variables, and hospitalization data. Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to evaluate independent predictors of all-cause hospitalization among those still on active duty and to estimate cumulative probability of hospitalization, 1994–2004, by service branch.
Members of our 1994 active duty cohort were more likely to be officers, somewhat older, and married compared with those who had separated from the military after serving in the 1991 Gulf War. Selected war-related exposures or experiences did not appear to influence separation with the exception of in-theater presence during the brief ground combat phase. Overall the top three diagnostic categories for hospitalizations were musculo-skeletal, injury and poisoning, and digestive disorders. Diseases of the circulatory system and symptoms, signs, and ill-defined conditions increased proportionately over time. In-theater hospitalization was the only significant independent predictor of long-term hospitalization risk among selected war-related exposures or experiences examined. The cumulative probability of hospitalization was highest for Army and lowest for Marines.
Our results were generally consistent with a previous hospitalization study of US Gulf War veterans for the period August 1991 to July 1999. Although lack of a comparison group for our study limits interpretation of overall findings, intra-cohort analyses showed no significant associations between long-term hospitalization and war-related exposures or experiences, with the exception of in-theater hospitalization, within our active duty subset of 1991 Gulf War veterans.
PMCID: PMC2263030  PMID: 18271971
8.  Influence of cigarette smoking on the overall perception of dental health among adults aged 20-79 years, United States, 1988-1994. 
Public Health Reports  2005;120(2):124-132.
OBJECTIVE: Investigation into the relationship between lifestyle factors (particularly cigarette smoking) and perceived oral health has been limited. Data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II), 1988-1994, were used to explore this relationship in a large sample of U.S. adults. METHODS: This study used data on 13,357 dentate participants in NHANES III aged 20-79 years. In NHANES III, information on perceived dental health, sociodemographic attributes, smoking status, frequency of dental visits, dental insurance, and general health perception were collected during a home interview, and oral health status was assessed at a mobile examination center. RESULTS: Overall, 34.4% of individuals in the study sample reported having an unfavorable perception of their dental health by qualifying it as "fair" or "poor." Furthermore, 46.6% of smokers had an unfavorable dental health perception, compared to 28.3% of non-smokers. An interaction between smoking and race/ethnicity was found in logistic regression modeling. Stratified results show that cigarette smoking was not a significant predictor for an unfavorable dental health perception among individuals who self-identified as Mexican American, but smoking was a significant predictor for an unfavorable dental health perception among those who identified as non-Hispanic black or non-Hispanic white. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to describe the effects of smoking on dental health perception while controlling for examined oral health status. Because perceived dental health is a potential indicator for dental care utilization, a better knowledge of the factors that influence dental health perception is not only important for dental services planning, but also for understanding oral health-related quality of life issues. Additionally, given that smoking may negatively affect dental health perception, these findings have potential implications for smoking cessation activities conducted by dental care providers.
PMCID: PMC1497695  PMID: 15842113

Results 1-8 (8)