Deployment Health Research

Contact Information:

Phone: (619) 553-7433, DSN: 553-7433

Description:   The Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) was designated as the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Center for Deployment Health Research on September 30, 1999 by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. To assist in this mission, NHRC established the Deployment Health Research Department. The mission of the department includes conducting epidemiological studies on the health of service members and their families. An experienced department staff and flexible framework provide the ability to quickly adapt and confront novel health concerns of DoD beneficiary populations and, where applicable, the general public. Staff members have expertise in epidemiology, medicine, psychology, reproductive health, biostatistics, complex data management, large mail and telephone surveys, and occupational health. Included among the core programs of the Deployment Health Research Department are the Millennium Cohort Study, the Millennium Cohort Family Study, the Recruit Assessment Program, the DoD Birth and Infant Health Registry, and a collection of post-marketing vaccine safety and effectiveness studies.

Millennium Cohort Study:   The Millennium Cohort Study, the largest prospective health study in US military history, was initiated in July of 2001 and currently has >200000 participants from all service branches and components. Although the original designers of the Millennium Cohort Study could not foresee the post-2001 military conflicts, the project is perfectly positioned to address health outcomes related to these operations. Deployment of more than 50% of Millennium Cohort participants in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enable investigators to prospectively evaluate detailed data from before, during, and after these deployments. Areas of research include posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol misuse, respiratory illnesses, sleep, and chronic diseases. The study is approved to follow service members and veterans for their lifespan (a 67 year study). The Millennium Cohort Study is poised to provide critical information toward understanding the long-term health of military members both during and after service, thus contributing to force health protection, a DoD priority.

Millennium Cohort Family StudyLaunched in 2011, the Millennium Cohort Family Study is conducted in concert with the Millennium Cohort Study to better understand how military families are coping with military life after more than a decade of war. Spouses of service members who recently enrolled in the Millennium Cohort Study are asked to participate in the Family Study. The study team has enrolled over 10,000 spouses, of whom approximately half will be married to service members who have deployed in support of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Systematic documentation of both positive and negative outcomes associated with deployment, along with detailed analyses of vulnerability and resilience factors will provide a scientifically sound foundation for informing the development of preventive and intervention strategies to ensure the health and well-being of service members and their families.

The Recruit Assessment Program

The Recruit Assessment Program (RAP) was initiated in 2001 to capture comprehensive pre-service health and behavioral data on military recruits. Initially established as a pilot program, RAP successfully demonstrated the feasibility of routinely obtaining baseline health data from recruits and serves as an invaluable resource for understanding the association between pre- and in-service experiences on subsequent health and service-related outcomes. Over 150,000 recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego have completed the survey. Ongoing research is evaluating the risk factors for suicide, the impact of deployment on risky health taking behaviors, and factors associated with early military attrition.

DoD Birth and Infant Health Registry:  

Established in 1998, the DoD Birth and Infant Health Registry aims to better understand the reproductive health effects of military service. To accomplish this goal, the Registry provides systematic surveillance of DoD beneficiary births, following infants after birth to assess health outcomes, including birth defects and preterm birth. With over 100,000 live births to military beneficiaries each year, the Registry currently contains data on more than 1.3 million infants. Uses for these data include establishing the prevalence of birth defects and evaluating associations of various birth outcomes with specific exposures, such as vaccination, deployment, occupational exposures, and geographic location. In addition to assessing infant health outcomes, the Registry has also recently developed the unique ability to monitor pregnancy outcomes, including pregnancy losses among active duty women. Overall, the DoD Birth and Infant Health Registry addresses the reproductive health concerns of military families through strong science and surveillance, contributing to the health and protection of military families.

Post-Marketing Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness Studies: The Deployment Health Research Department conducts several post-vaccination studies recommended by the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (OASD/HA) and the US Military Vaccine Agency (MILVAX). Collaborations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and vaccine manufacturers to meet FDA post-marketing requirements led to the establishment of the following registries:

National Smallpox Vaccine in Pregnancy Registry: Developed in 2003 in collaboration with the CDC, the study team receives information regarding women inadvertently vaccinated in pregnancy, or within 42 days prior to conception. Unique to this registry is the ability to use active case follow-up to evaluate pregnancy losses. In addition, liveborn infants resulting from these pregnancies are followed annually through early childhood to assess health outcomes.

BioThrax (Anthrax) Vaccine in Pregnancy Registry: Established in 2012 in collaboration with the vaccine manufacturer, this registry addresses FDA post-marketing surveillance requirements by following women who inadvertently receive the anthrax vaccine while pregnant for pregnancy and health outcomes. For more information about anthrax, the anthrax vaccine, or the BioThrax (Anthrax) Vaccine in Pregnancy Registry, please visit the MILVAX Anthrax webpage. To refer a patient, please complete a referral form.

ACAM2000® Myopericarditis Registry: As directed by the Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the ACAM2000® Myopericarditis Registry was established in 2010 in collaboration with the US Military Vaccine Agency (MILVAX) and the vaccine manufacturer to prospectively study the natural history of cases of myopericarditis which occur following receipt of the ACAM2000® Smallpox vaccine. This study aims to identify factors that may influence prognosis, serving to provide valuable data on potential vaccine effects and outcomes among military personnel.

Other Post-Vaccination Studies: The Department also conducts several other post-vaccination epidemiologic research studies to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations among service members. Studies include: Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccine during Pregnancy; Comparison of the Effectiveness of Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (TIV) and Live, Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) in Preventing Influenza-Like Illness Among US Military Service Members; Safety of Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diptheria Toxid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap) in Pregnancy; Safety of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine in Pregnancy; and several other investigations of novel vaccines and formulations.

Resource Pages:

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