Accession Number:



Health Survey of U.S. Navy Divers from 1960 to 1990: A First Look

Descriptive Note:

Technical rept. 2006-2011

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



After a records search identified men and women who, on active duty between 1960 and 1990, had served as U.S. Navy divers performing saturation, experimental, or both saturation and experimental dives, their current health status was surveyed. During that period, others from the fleet diver population whom the search did not identify as having performed either saturation or experimental dives served as a fourth group, a reference comparison group. When all the divers n5,422 were mailed invitations to participate, 33 n1,792 agreed to complete a self-report survey requesting information on their lifestyle behaviors, occupational histories, diving exposures, and the statuses of their current health, physical activity, and cognitive functioning. The final participation rate surveys used mailed invitations was 27.5. From this study group of enlisted 60, warrant officer 5, and commissioned officer 35 personnel, the surveys of 1,475 male and 15 female divers 92 military retirees and 8 active duty members were analyzed. These divers served an average of 24 active duty years, with an average of 18 years of active duty diving. Their average age was 56. Married divers represented 87 of the participants divorced or widowed, 11 and never married, 1. Of all these divers, 60 now receive disability compensation. One in five divers had experienced pain-only decompression sickness DCS one in seven, neurological DCS. One in four said that, within 24 hours of a dive, they had suffered pain or neurological symptoms for which they had not sought treatment symptoms had failed to resolve for 6 of these divers. Overall, 41 of the divers had experienced one or more of nine dive-related injuries. Fifty-four percent of the divers had reported a lost-time longer than three days accident at work, and 62 had been deployed to a theater of combat operations.

Subject Categories:

  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: