Women’s Health Care in the Deployed Setting 2013–2020: A Health Services Research Approach

Lynette Hamlin*, Amanda Banaag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: With the management and oversight of MTFs moving under the authority of the Defense Health Agency, coupled with a careful examination of the composition of uniformed medical personnel, it is imperative to ensure that active duty servicewomen who are in deployed settings receive timely, appropriate, and quality health care. This study sought to examine the amount and types of gynecological and obstetric care provided in the deployed setting and to examine that data by the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the women receiving that care. Materials and Methods: Using the Military Health System's Theater Medical Data Store, we identified women aged 15 to 54 years old who received care at a theater-based MTF between 2013 and 2020. Within our study population, we subsequently identified obstetric and gynecologic (OBGYN) health services during the study period, and ran descriptive statistics on patient demographics (age group, race, rank, and U.S. military branch of service) and OBGYN health services. Patient age was assessed at the time of data extraction and race was categorized as Black, White, Other, and Unknown. The military branch of service was categorized as Army, Navy/Marines, Air Force, and Other. Rank was used as a proxy for socioeconomic status and categorized as Junior Enlisted, Senior Enlisted, Junior Officer, Senior Officer, Warrant Officer, and Other. Multivariable logistic regressions were also conducted and used to assess the odds of OBGYN health service utilization, with all patient demographics included as predictor variables. Results: A total of 490,482 women were identified and received OBGYN health services at theater-based MTFs between 2013 and 2020. The majority of our population consisted of women aged 25 to 34 years (56.98%), associated with a Junior Enlisted rank (39.27%) and with the Navy/Marines (37.27%). Race was severely underreported, with 51.58% associated with an unknown race; however, 20.88% of our population were White women, 16.81% were Black women, and 10.72% of women identified their race as Other. The top five diagnoses for women seen in the deployed environment were for a contraceptive prescription (12.13%), followed by sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening (8.14%), breast disorder (7.89%), GYN exam (6.86%), and menstrual abnormalities (6.35%). Compared to White women, Black women had higher odds of seeking the contraceptive prescription (3.03 OR, 2.91-3.17 95% CI), obtaining STI screening (5.34 OR, 5.16-5.54 95% CI), being seen for a breast disorder (4.88 OR, 4.71-5.06 95% CI), GYN exam (3.21 OR, 3.10-3.32 95% CI), and menstrual abnormalities (3.71 OR, 3.58-3.85 95% CI). Conclusions: Almost consistently, senior officers were more likely to receive OBGYN services during deployment. Policymakers and health-care providers need to identify interventions to close this care gap, particularly in preventive OBGYN services (contraception, GYN exams, STI screenings). Fully implementing the Comprehensive Contraceptive Counseling and Access to the Full Range of Methods of Contraception policy and developing one standard Defense Health Affairs policy on pre-deployment evaluation standards and deployment follow-up care for women's health care may also assist in closing care gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2509-2515
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023


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