Medical surveillance of injuries in the u.s. Military descriptive epidemiology and recommendations for improvement

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Jan;38(1 Suppl):S42-60. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.10.014.


Introduction: Injury surveillance is the first and most critical step of the injury prevention process. Without it, successful injury prevention could not be sustained. The purpose of this paper is to describe advances in military medical surveillance, compare the incidence of injuries with other illnesses, define the size and causes of the injury problem for the military, and make recommendations for improved surveillance and injury prevention.

Methods: Medical and personnel data for nondeployed active duty personnel were obtained from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center for 2000-2006. Rates of nonfatal injuries and injury-related musculoskeletal conditions, frequencies of injury types, and causes of injury hospitalizations are described.

Results: Injuries were the leading cause of medical encounters among military personnel. The rate of hospitalization for injuries was approximately 1000 per 100,000 person-years and, for injuries treated in outpatient clinics, 999 per 1000 person-years. The leading injury type resulting in hospitalization was fractures (40%) and the leading injury type resulting in outpatient visits was sprains and strains (49%). Leading causes of hospitalization were falls/near falls (17.5%), motor vehicle mishaps (15.4%), and sports (13.1%).

Conclusions: Injuries are the biggest health problem of the military services. Military medical surveillance data are useful for determining the magnitude and causes of the injury problem, identifying possible prevention targets, and monitoring of trends among military personnel.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries
  • Population Surveillance
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology