Factors associated with poor self-reported health within the UK military and comparisons with the general population: A cohort study

Sarah C Jenkins, Sharon Am Stevelink, Nicola T Fear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the self-rated health of the UK military and explore factors associated with poor self-rated health. Compare self-rated health of the military to the general population.

DESIGN: A cohort study.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 7626 serving and ex-serving UK military personnel, aged between 25 and 49; 19,452,300 civilians from England and Wales.

SETTING: United Kingdom (military), England and Wales (civilians).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self rated health for both populations. Additional data for the military sample included measures of symptoms of common mental disorder (General Health Questionnaire-12), probable post-traumatic stress disorder (post-traumatic stress disorder checklist Civilian Version), alcohol use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), smoking behaviour, history of self-harm and body mass index.

RESULTS: In the military sample, poor self-rated health was significantly associated with: common mental disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder symptomology, a history of self-harm, being obese, older age (ages 35-49) and current smoking status. However, the majority of military personnel report good health, with levels of poor self-rated health (13%) not significantly different to those reported by the general population (12.1%).

CONCLUSIONS: Self-rated health appears to relate to aspects of both physical and psychological health. The link between poor self-rated health and psychological ill-health emphasises the need for military support services to continue addressing mental health problems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine: Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

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