Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Military/civilian medical experts turning attention to 'army' of injured civilians supporting wars

Date:
February 14, 2011
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
After analyzing data on 2,155 private contractors, diplomats and other civilians supporting war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan who were medically evacuated out of combat zones, researchers have found they are more likely to be evacuated for noncombat-related injuries, but more likely to return to work in-country after treatment for these conditions.

After analyzing data on 2,155 private contractors, diplomats and other civilians supporting war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan who were medically evacuated out of combat zones, researchers have found they are more likely to be evacuated for noncombat-related injuries, but more likely to return to work in-country after treatment for these conditions.

Still, the findings of the Johns Hopkins-led research team, published online in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, note that 75 percent of the nonmilitary group medically evacuated from the war zones to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany between 2004 and 2007 did not return to the field.

"Everyone is understandably focused on the troops but wars have fundamentally changed. Today, roughly half of those deployed in Iraq and two-thirds in Afghanistan are not members of the military," says study leader Steven P. Cohen, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. "These individuals are increasingly an integral part of the mission but have been almost completely ignored in the medical literature. That needs to change so that we can develop better methods of injury and disease prevention."

Cohen suggests money may be one main reason that nonmilitary personnel return to work more often than those in the military. "Private contractors and other civilian workers tend to have significantly higher salaries than soldiers, and if they don't return to work on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan, they don't get paid," he says. Soldiers, by contrast, will still get paid even if they are sent back home to the United States, losing only a small percentage of hazardous duty pay.

The study showed that combat injuries were not the leading cause of evacuation for either military personnel or civilians. Musculoskeletal injuries were the leading cause of medical evacuation in both groups, with a higher proportion of soldiers suffering those injuries than civilians. In modern warfare, the researchers note, injuries sustained in combat have never been the leading source of soldier attrition. Respiratory and infectious diseases were the main causes from World War I through the Korean War. By Vietnam, nonbattle injuries (e.g., back pain, fractures, overuse injuries) had become the leading source of loss of unit strength, where they have remained ever since.

Not surprisingly, Cohen and his colleagues found, military personnel were more likely to be evacuated for war-related injuries than civilians. The study considered combat, psychiatric, traumatic brain injury, and some musculoskeletal/spine injuries suffered during operational missions to be war-related. Civilians, who often work in security and transportation jobs, are less likely to be in the line of fire, and don't expect to be injured in combat, Cohen says. When they are, they are less likely to return to a war zone, with many concluding the job "isn't exactly what they signed up for."

The most prevalent diagnoses for civilians were musculoskeletal/spine injuries (19 percent), combat-related injuries (14 percent) and circulatory disorders (13 percent). Among members of the military, the most common diagnoses were musculoskeletal (31 percent -- 6.4 percent considered war-related), combat (14 percent) and psychiatric (9 percent).

Cohen noted that civilians with psychiatric diagnoses were significantly more likely to return to duty (16 percent vs. 9 percent for soldiers). "Despite the military's emphasis on screening and early treatment for psychiatric disorders, they still take a much greater toll on military personnel than nonmilitary personnel," says Cohen, who is also director of chronic pain research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The longer the wars continue, he adds, the worse this problem will be. "The more times a soldier is deployed, the more likely he is to experience a psychiatric problem," he says. "Instead of becoming more resistant, soldiers become more vulnerable."

According to the study, 16 percent of military personnel returned to duty compared to 22 percent of civilians after being evacuated for a routine musculoskeletal or spine injury. Soldiers' jobs tend to be more physically taxing than civilian jobs, Cohen says, making it harder, perhaps, for them to return to duty after such injuries. Civilian workers were more likely to be evacuated because of circulatory and heart problems, Cohen says, probably owing to their average older age (44.4 years compared to soldiers' 29.8 years) and accompanying age-related disorders.

The study was funded in part by the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute, the U.S. Army and the Army Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine Initiative.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Military/civilian medical experts turning attention to 'army' of injured civilians supporting wars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214122637.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2011, February 14). Military/civilian medical experts turning attention to 'army' of injured civilians supporting wars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214122637.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Military/civilian medical experts turning attention to 'army' of injured civilians supporting wars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214122637.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins