STARS PROJECT: Strategies to Assist Navy Recruit Success


Name: Reg Williams


Organization: The Regents of The University of Michigan

Performance Site: Naval Recruit Training Command & Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, IL

Year Published: 2001

Abstract Status: Final


Purpose: The purposes of this prospective cluster-randomized intervention trial were to examine stress, depression, cost effectiveness, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) functioning in Navy recruits by comparing divisions that received the BOOT STRAP mental health intervention with divisions that did not have the intervention. The long-term objective was to increase the number of recruits who complete basic training by implementing the intervention to entire divisions.Sample: A total of 1,199 recruits participated in the study.Methods: The intervention was designed to provide cognitive-behavioral approaches to problem solving, stress management, interpersonal relationships, and team building with a division of recruits. One division was randomly assigned to the intervention or control groups. The recruits completed a battery of questionnaires at the beginning of basic training and at the end. Data were examined using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and mixed models analysis to assess differences between the intervention and control divisions.Findings: The intervention group recruits developed significantly higher group cohesion, higher problem-solving coping strategies, higher perceived social support, and reported fewer anger-expression coping strategies than the control group recruits. The intervention recruits reported significantly fewer physical injuries, and sought more support from other recruits than the controls. Mean cortisol levels in the intervention groups were significantly lower than in the control groups. Potential cost savings per year on recruit training were estimated to be $18.6 million. Training the facilitators and implementing the group intervention would cost an estimated $1.5 million per year. Those sailors who successfully completed basic training were followed after two years in the fleet. The intervention sailors had a retention rate 1% higher than the controls. Building on previous research, the results of this study have the potential to decrease attrition, improve recruit performance levels, and provide a cost-effective method of enhancing recruit retention.


Final report is available on NTRL: