Introduction Minimising temporary and permanent disability associated with musculoskeletal conditions (MSK-D) is critical to the mission of the US Army. Prior research has identified potentially actionable risk factors for overall military disability and its MSK-D subset, including elevated body mass index, tobacco use and physical fitness. However, prior work does not appear to have addressed the impact of these factors on MSK-D when controlling for a full range of factors that may affect health behaviours, including aptitude scores that may serve as a proxy for health literacy. Identifying risk factors for MSK-D when providing control for all such factors may inform efforts to improve military readiness.
Methods We studied 494 757 enlisted Army soldiers from 2014 to 2017 using a combined medical and administrative database. Leveraging data from the Army’s digital ‘eProfile’ system of duty restriction records, we defined MSK-D as the first restriction associated with musculoskeletal conditions and resulting in the inability to deploy or train. We used multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression to assess the associations between incident MSK-D and selected risk factors including aptitude scores, physical fitness test scores, body mass index and tobacco use.
Results Among the subjects, 281 278 (45.14%) experienced MSK-D. In the MSK-D hazards model, the highest effect size was for failing the physical fitness test (adjusted HR=1.63, 95% CI 1.58 to 1.67, p<0.001) compared with scoring ≥290 points.
Conclusions The analysis revealed the strongest associations between physical fitness and MSK-D. Additional efforts are warranted to determine potential mechanisms for the observed associations between selected factors and MSK-D.
- musculoskeletal disorders
- preventive medicine
Data availability statement
No data are available.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.