Hotaling B, Theiss J, Cohen B, Wilburn K, Emberton J, Westrick R. 21(3). 72 - 77. (Journal Article)
Purpose: This study evaluated the musculoskeletal injury (MSKI) self-reporting behaviors among active-duty Air Force Special Warfare personnel to explore potential limitations of injury surveillance approaches. Methods: Participants completed a 47-item survey between December 2018 and March 2019 regarding their MSKI history. Participants were asked if they sought medical care for symptoms consistent with MSKIs and reasons they did or did not report their injuries. Injury reporting rates were calculated with descriptive statistics and rank ordering was utilized to determine frequency. Results: A total of 398 airmen reported 1,057 injuries occurring in the previous 12-month period, including 508 (48%) injuries identified as not reported to medical personnel. Approximately 55% (N = 579) of all injuries were described as gradual onset. The most common reason for not reporting injuries (28.8%, N = 62) was "fear of potential impact on future career opportunities." Conclusion: Approximately half of MSKIs in this sample of US Air Force Special Warfare personnel were not reported to medical personnel. The underreporting of injuries may pose unknown levels of risk and negatively impact military readiness levels.
Keywords: underreporting; injury exaggeration; concealment; injury rates; symptoms; self-report MSKI; military