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Reassessment of Occupational Health Among U.S. Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft (Drone) Operators

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2016,01 Apr 2017

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USAFSAM/FHO Wright-Patterson AFB United States

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MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft RPA drones operators participate in a diverse range of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, as well as weapon strike missions for close air support to ground troops and aerial sniper missions of enemy combatants. Such operators are required to sustain around-the-clock operations to meet the demand from military leadership requesting weaponized RPAs to support a wide range of global missions. As a result, the health and wellness of the airmen operating such aircraft are paramount to sustaining performance and readiness. As a result, the U.S. Air Force USAF School of Aerospace Medicine was requested to conduct a field survey to assess for general areas of health-related behaviors i.e., sleep and exercise alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine use common reasons for seeking medical care and mental health support services and reasons for increased prescription and over-the-counter medication usage. The purpose of this study was to reevaluate for changes in behavioral health habits among this critical group of military personnel following an earlier study conducted by the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine in 2012.


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