Accession Number:



Out of the Shadows: The Health and Well-Being of Private Contractors Working in Conflict Environments

Descriptive Note:

Research rept.

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Contractors working in conflict environments are exposed to many of the same combat stressors as military personnel. These stressors are known to have physical and mental health implications, and there has been much research on the causes and consequences of combat and operational stress among military personnel. Yet, despite anecdotal evidence of similar problems among contractors, there has been very little study of this issue to date. This report presents findings from a RAND study that attempted to bridge this research gap by estimating the prevalence of mental and physical health challenges across a large sample of contractors working in conflict environments. The study addressed two related questions 1 What is the prevalence of mental and physical health problems among contractors who have deployed at least once to a theater of conflict in the 2011-2013 time frame and 2 To what extent do contractors who work in conflict environments use mental health care services, and what are the barriers and facilitators to receiving care The research consisted of an online survey of 660 contractors. Two-thirds 61 of respondents were U.S. citizens, 24 were British citizens, and the rest were citizens of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, or other nations. The largest proportion of respondents 38 were engaged in land security services. The remaining respondents were engaged in transportation, training or advising, maritime security, base support, logistics, management, or other services. In addition to demographic and employment information, the survey asked respondents about their deployment experience including level of preparation for deployment, combat exposure, and living conditions, their mental health including criteria for probable PTSD, depression, and high-risk alcohol use, their physical health, and their access to and use of health care.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: