Military Health Outcomes Program

The Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP) was a significant body of research commissioned by Defence to determine the impact of operational deployment on the health and wellbeing of service men and women.

MilHOP consisted of 5 studies:

  • Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing study
  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in the Australian Defence Force
  • Middle East Areas of Operations Census Health study
  • Middle East Areas of Operations Prospective Health study
  • Middle East Areas of Operations Mortality and Cancer Incidence Health study.

Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing study

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing study was conducted by the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide. The study consisted of diagnostic interviews with participants from the Prospective and Census Health Studies and a sample of non-deployed personnel, to determine the prevalence of mental health conditions in the ADF.

The study was the first comprehensive investigation of the mental health of an ADF serving population. It provided a summary of the 12-month prevalence of mental health disorders in the ADF and identified subgroups that warranted further investigation.

The performance of mental health instruments currently used in the ADF and occupational issues of relevance to the ADF mental health strategy were also examined.

Reports

Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing study full report (2010) (PDF, 5.74 MB)

Mild traumatic brain injury in the Australian Defence Force

Mild traumatic brain injury in the Australian Defence Force (mTBI) examined the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and a range of risk factors for these conditions, including mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

In the Defence Force, the most prevalent cause of mTBI was motor vehicle accidents, with incidents and falls carrying a greater risk of mTBI than blast exposure. Furthermore, mTBI was associated with a significantly increased risk of all domains of psychological disorder, highlighting the public health importance of this issue and the need to assess mTBI in the context of an individual’s psychological health.

It is accepted that certain symptoms can occur following mTBI, including problems with memory, balance, concentration, headaches, tinnitus, sensitivity to light, fatigue, irritability and others. However, there are difficulties associated with diagnosis, especially noting that if mTBI is diagnosed based on post-concussive symptoms alone, it may misattribute symptoms that have other causes.

Significant investment has been made to improve preparation, early intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation programs to ensure that Defence personnel are prepared and supported.

Defence continues to improve mental health awareness, reduce stigma and barriers to care, and encourage individuals to seek help early.

Reports

Mild traumatic brain injury in the Australian Defence Force full report (2012) (PDF, 439.22 KB)

Middle East Areas of Operations Census Health study

The Middle East Areas of Operations (MEAO) Census Health study examined the health status of ADF members deployed to the MEAO between 2001 and 2009.

Over 14,000, veterans voluntarily participated in the Census Health study and the response rates of the study compared favourably with similar studies.

Reports

Census health study summary report (2012) (PDF, 1.14 MB)

Census Health study full report (2012) (PDF, 3.14 MB)

Census Health study full report volume 2 - supplementary tables and analytical methods (2012) (PDF, 1.94 MB)

Census Health study full report volume 3 - supplementary material (2012) (PDF, 3.71 MB)

Middle East Areas of Operations Prospective Health study

The Middle East Areas of Operations (MEAO) Prospective Health study collected data on personnel prior to deployment and again after returning home, allowing causes for onset of health concerns to be determined.

The study examined life experiences, lifetime trauma exposure and information on previous military service. A sub-set of primarily combat personnel also participated in physical tests and neurocognitive assessments.

The independently reviewed studies provided a substantial resource from which Defence and Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) will be able to continue future research programs and plan health care services for ADF personnel and veterans into the future.

The findings reinforced the significant investment already made by Defence to improve mental health and rehabilitation services through the Mental Health Reform program and implementation of the ADF Mental Health Strategy. The findings also have implications for programs that may benefit from review and expansion, including:

  • improved support and monitoring during and following transition from the ADF
  • review of mental health screening to better capture exposure to potential traumas, regardless of where or when they occur
  • establishment of a Defence and DVA strategic research framework to prioritise further analysis of the data.

Reports

Prospective Health study executive summary (2012) (PDF, 580.19 KB)

Prospective Health study full report volume 1 (2012) (PDF, 4.83 MB)

Prospective Health study full report volume 2 (2012) (PDF, 9.76 MB)

Prospective Health study full report volume 3 (2012) (PDF, 2.55 MB)

Middle East Areas of Operations Mortality and Cancer Incidence Health study

The Middle East Areas of Operations (MEAO) Mortality and Cancer Incidence Health study collected relevant data on deaths and cancers from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for personnel who participated in the Deployment Health studies.

The report presents the rates of mortality and cancer incidence in those deployed to the MEAO and in a group of ADF personnel who did not deploy to the MEAO.

Reports

Mortality and Cancer Incidence Health study full report (2013) (PDF, 1.12 MB)