Perceived Health Status and Medical Conditions Among US Active-Duty Service Members

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PURPOSE: This paper investigates the association between self-reported perceived health status and doctor-informed medical conditions among US active duty service members (ADSM).

METHODS: Data are from the 2018 Health-Related Behaviors Survey - a cross-sectional survey weighted to represent the US military (N = 17166). Perceived good health status was defined as having a response choice of "good", "very good", or "excellent" to the question: Would you say your overall physical health is ___? Medical conditions were based on self-reported presence of nine clinical conditions. Analysis included weighted prevalence and log-binomial regression models to explore relationships between ADSM characteristics with perceived good health status as well as concordance between perceived status and medical conditions.

RESULTS: ADSM rated their health to be excellent (14.6%), very good (37.7%), good (36.2%), fair (9.7%) and poor (1.7%). About 88.5% perceived a good (to excellent) health status. Perceived good health status was negatively associated with the number of medical conditions present (adjusted odds ratio (aOR): ranging from 0.78 to 0.92) as well as several health behaviors (aOR): ranging from 0.86 to 0.98) and other sociodemographic factors. Among all ADSMs, 51% perceived good health in the absence of medical conditions, while 8% perceived poor health status in the presence of medical conditions. Concordance between perceived health status and medical conditions was significantly lower among ADSM who were older (aOR: 0.61; 95% CI: 0.54-0.69), with dependent children (aOR: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.84-0.95), or had been deployed (aOR: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.84-0.95).

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of perceived good health status among ADSMs was consistent with those documented in the general US population. The interrelationships between ADSM's perceptions, medical conditions and sociodemographic characteristics may have implications for their health literacy and utilization of health services. Study findings suggest that interventions promoting healthy behaviors, health literacy and treatment-seeking may influence perceived health status and mitigate medical conditions among ADSM, thus improving the US Military readiness, resilience and mission success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5121-5138
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology Research and Behavior Management
StatePublished - 2023


  • active duty service members
  • health status
  • medical conditions
  • risk behaviors
  • United States


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