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Continuous Assessment of Active-Duty Army Special Operations and Reconnaissance Marines Using Digital Devices and Custom Software: The Digital Comprehensive Operator Readiness Assessment (DcORA) Study

Summer 2024

Saxon L, Faulk RT, Boberg J, Barrett T, McLelland S. 24(2). 52 - 60. (Journal Article)


Background: Continuous exposure to extreme and chronic stress from uncontrollable events has been linked to increased psychological and physiological reactivity. Prolonged, frequent deployments may test coping skills over time, ultimately rendering Servicemembers vulnerable to mental health problems and suicide. This study develops a methodology for accurately collecting holistic health measures from Servicemembers using digital tools, including custom-built phone software and body-worn sensors. Methods: The secure research platform and mobile app continuously collect multiple health measures and, after data analysis, deliver continuously updated summary data back to the Servicemember. This system provides novel insights into the relationships between the measures while helping individuals track their progress toward self-established goals. Participants were given an iPhone (including the study app) and an Apple Watch. Participants tracked their data for more than 6 months and responded to baseline, daily, and weekly questions and assessments. Physiologic, psychologic, and cognitive assessment data across the Preservation of the Force and Family program (POTFF) domains were collected, displayed to the individual, and analyzed in aggregate. Results: When coupled with custom-built software, this hardware can be elevated from a fitness tracker to a user-facing health monitoring, educational, and delivery system. Conclusion: This wearable system measured vital factors associated with the health and human performance of Servicemembers. In real-time, it engaged Servicemembers in health and human performance optimization practices to achieve a goal of prevention of physical or mental injury.

Keywords: mobile applications; military personnel; digital technology; wearable electronic devices; fitness trackers; outcome assessment; health behavior; healthcare

PMID: 38866696

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