Project title: ACES LIFE: Health Risk and Needs Assessment of USAF Aviator and Aircrew Lifestyle at a Pacific Northwest Air Force Base
Completed in: 1994 | Faculty advisor: Harvey Checkoway
Military aviators are an expensive national resource. This is a function of the multimillion dollar cost of aviator training. To optimize the investment in these individuals, only those candidates who are both currently healthy and deemed likely to be free of future chronic disease are accepted into training. Health maintenance of experienced aviators through disease prevention and proactive health promotion complements this effort. This screening and surveillancec might be expected to consistently produce individuals who are healthier than the general U.S. population in teRMS of lifestyle-related illness and injury.
Aviator cooperation is critical to the success of the survey. These professionals have been characterized as action-oriented, seekers of concrete solutions, and focused on short term goals. Operational issues such as fatigue-induced performance and flight safety decrements interest aviators to a much greater degree than the future risk of cancer.
Our answer to these design challenges was a to develop an aviation-relevant lifestyle survey which focused on both immediate operational risks such as flight fatigue, yet also assessed a wide range of behaviors associated with bothh cancer and cardiovascular health. The survey consists of six modules: exercise, tobacco use, diet, alcohol use, ultraviolet exposure, and fatigue. It is a combined health risk and needs assessment questionnaire. It was administered to five fixed-wing squadrons at an Air Force Base (AFB) in Washington State. The aim of the survey was to better determine the demographic, and task-related risk factors associated with cancer and with flight operations, as well as assess the barriers to better health and the recommendations made to improve aviator lifestyle. This paper will focus on the health behavior rish assessment component of the survey.