Design and development of contemporary military body armour has traditionally focused primarily on male soldiers. As the anthropometric body dimensions of male and female soldiers differ, we aimed to determine whether current body armour was meeting fit and functional requirements of female soldiers. One-hundred and forty-seven female Australian Defence Force soldiers completed a 59-item questionnaire regarding the fit and function of current body armour. Most (68%) participants reported wearing ill-fitting body armour, which was associated with increased total musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, as well as pain at the shoulders, abdomen, and hips. Body armour that was too large was more likely to interfere with task performance when it was integrated with a combat belt, as well as when female soldiers performed operationally representative tasks. Modifying body armour design and sizing to cater to the anthropometric dimensions of female soldiers is recommended.
Keywords: Body armour; Female soldiers; Fit; Integration; Movement interference; Musculoskeletal pain and discomfort.
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