ICF International recently completed an Air Force Community Assessment survey, an anonymous web-based survey of U.S. Air Force (USAF) members. The survey was administered to a stratified random sample of 56,137 active duty USAF members across 80 bases worldwide; 78 percent were male and 22 percent were female.
With today's new military deployment environment—characterized by more frequent and longer deployments—significant attention has focused on the effects of deployment on problem behaviors, including alcohol use. The current study examined the relationship between aspects of deployment and alcohol use. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) measured the rate of alcohol problems. Deployment histories were collected using a series of questions that asked respondents about various aspects and characteristics of their recent deployments.
For the results of this survey, logistic regression was used to examine the impact of various aspects of deployment on problem drinking. After controlling for demographic variables related to the likelihood of problem drinking, both a higher frequency of deployment and a greater total cumulative length of time deployed since September 11, 2001, were associated with a higher likelihood of problem drinking. For each increase in deployment frequency category, the odds that an Air Force member was a problem drinker increased by 14 percent; for each additional year spent deployed, the odds increased by 23 percent.
Some of the conclusions gathered in this report indicate a significant relationship between deployment and problem drinking. However, most members who deployed multiple times remained resilient. This points to the need for future research on protective factors that foster resiliency.
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