Experience of Postpartum Active Duty Women in Training for the Fitness Assessment


Name: Nicole Armitage

Rank: Lt Col

Organization: Washington State University

Performance Site: Washington State University College of Nursing, WA; 92nd Medical Group, David Grant USAF Medical Center, Fairchild AFB, WA

Year Published: 2012

Abstract Status: Final


Active duty members of all branches of the United States (U.S.) military must maintain certain levels of fitness so that they can perform their duties both in the theater of military operations and at home station.  To facilitate and evaluate physical readiness, military members of all services are required to pass periodic fitness tests. U.S. Air Force members must pass the fitness test in order to earn satisfactory performance evaluations, be eligible for special duty assignments and promotion. Active duty members who become pregnant are exempt from fitness testing until 6 months postpartum at which time they must take the fitness test.  Prior research suggests that fitness levels in women decrease after pregnancy and childbirth and that most women have not achieved pre-pregnancy fitness levels by 6 months postpartum. In addition, women can be particularly vulnerable to mental and physical health problems during the postpartum period.  Therefore, some women may struggle in preparing for and passing the 6-month postpartum fitness test and may require assistance during this time. In order for nurses to understand how to help active duty women achieve optimal health and fitness after childbirth, they must first understand the experience of postpartum women who are trying to meet fitness standards. To date, no published research was found that considered perspectives of active duty Air Force women who are trying to meet fitness standards during the postpartum period. The purpose of this study is to describe the experience of postpartum active duty women as they trained for their first postpartum fitness test.  

The results of this study could be used to expand the body of nursing knowledge and inform nursing interventions aimed at assisting active duty women achieve optimal fitness levels. The aim of this proposed study is to describe and interpret the experience of active duty women as they train for the Air Force fitness assessment taken at 6 months postpartum. The researcher will collect and analyze data using a phenomenological methodology in order to gain a deep understanding of the meaning of the experience of active duty women. Data will be collected through interviews with 10-15 participants which will be audiotaped and later transcribed for in-depth analysis by the research team.


Final report is available on NTRL at: https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/PB2015100607.xhtml