Psychological Health Screening of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Operators and Supporting Units
SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE WRIGHT PATTERSON AFB OH
Pagination or Media Count:
As a result of the effectiveness of remotely piloted aircraft RPA, the operational tempo of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper has surged over the past decade in support of combat operations. Line leadership and flight medicine providers have raised questions about the impact that such operations have on the psychological disposition of operators tasked with supporting combat air patrols CAPs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To answer that question, 600 PredatorReaper operators, 264 Global Hawk operators, and 600 noncombatant airmen supporting RPA operations completed the Malasch Burnout Inventory-General Scale MBI-GS. They also completed self-report items assessing demographic information, as well as levels and sources of occupational stress. The results of the study revealed the main sources of occupational stress were operational i.e., long hours, low manning, shift work, human-machine interface difficulties, geographical location of work, concerns regarding career profession and incentives. Compared to noncombatants, PredatorReaper operators had a higher incidence of emotional exhaustion while levels of cynicism negative work attitude and professional efficacy were lower. Global Hawk operators scored the highest on levels of emotional exhaustion and cynicism for all groups. The results of this study suggest there is a high incidence of emotional exhaustionfatigue among RPA operators as a group in comparison to noncombatant airmen. Efforts to reduce occupational burnout should focus on operational stressors and be equally devoted to weapon- and nonweapon-deploying RPA operators.
- Medicine and Medical Research
- Military Forces and Organizations