Military Women's Health and Illness Behaviors in Deployed Settings


Name: Candy Wilson

Rank: Maj. USAF

Organization: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Performance Site: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; United States Air Force Academy

Year Published: 2008

Abstract Status: Final


Military women are regularly deployed to environmental conditions that restrict effective management of their genitourinary (GU) health that can lead to infection. GU infections are most common in the second, third, and fourth decade of life, the age group which comprises of the majority of military women and therefore poses a serious health concern. Currently, 10% of military personnel who are deployed are women. The purpose of this study is to describe the illness behaviors of recently deployed military women who suffered with GU symptoms. Illness behavior is the perception of bodily changes and interpretation of the symptoms as illness or variations of wellness. It also involves seeking advice and validation from others that can lead to either self-care or professional treatments within the context of culture. Military women are inundated with pre-deployment briefings about feminine hygiene and self-care management; however, it has been reported that women seek health care more for their GU symptoms in the most austere conditions (Wilson, 2006). The proposed study explores military deployed women's perceptions of the culture impacting their illness behaviors. Specifically, the aims of the study are to: 1) describe patterns, practices, and experiences of illness behaviors for recently deployed women that experienced GU symptoms; 2) describe patterns, practices, and experiences of deployed military women when seeking health information in the deployed setting regarding their GU symptoms; 3) compare and contrast the patterns of military women's illness behaviors when managing GU symptoms in the deployed verses the home setting. A purposive sample of 50 military women will be recruited from an Air Force Base and an Army Pos who have recently returned from deployments. An ethnographic design will be used to explore patterns and experiences of illness behaviors using semi-structured, formal interviews. Final sample size will be determined by saturation. Data will be analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings include the study short term goal, which is to describe military women's experiences when managing GU symptoms in the context of the deployed culture.


Final Report is available on NTRL at: