Accession Number : ADA577055

Title :   Prevalence of High Emotional Distress and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in U.S. Air Force Active Duty Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operators (2010 USAFSAM Survey Results)

Descriptive Note : Final rept. Jan 2010-Jun 2011

Corporate Author : SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE WRIGHT PATTERSON AFB OH AEROSPACE MEDICINE DEPT

Personal Author(s) : Chappelle, Wayne ; McDonald, Kent ; Thompson, Billy ; Swearengen, Julie

PDF Url : ADA577055

Report Date : Dec 2012

Pagination or Media Count : 21

Abstract : The demand for United States Air Force (USAF) remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and weapons-strike operations has led to the necessity of sustaining around-the-clock operations across the globe. Because of the unique nature of RPA operations, there is a wide range of opinions among military and medical leadership as to the sources, levels, and impact of stress affecting performance capabilities among RPA operators (pilots, sensor operators, and mission intelligence coordinators). The purpose of this study is to (a) identify main sources of self-reported occupational stress, (b) use standardized self-report questionnaires to identify rates of clinical distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (c) compare findings with local non-RPA operator airmen (logistics and support units from the same geographic locations), and (d) identify demographic and occupational stressors that correlate with (or are predictive of) clinical distress and PTSD among Predator/Reaper operators. Participants included 670 USAF RPA Predator/Reaper operators and 751 noncombatant airmen. Each participant completed a demographics questionnaire, items assessing their top sources of occupational stress, and standardized instruments assessing emotional distress and PTSD. Participation was encouraged by line leadership, and responses to the survey were anonymous to maximize self-disclosure. The most commonly cited stressors among RPA operators included long hours, shift work, deployed in-garrison status, ergonomic design of the ground control station, and sustaining vigilance to large amounts of real-time visual and auditory data. Combat-related stressors were not rated as top sources of stress. Rates of clinical distress and PTSD were higher among RPA operators (20% and 5%, respectively) in comparison to non-RPA airmen (11% and 2%, respectively).

Descriptors :   *POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, AIR FORCE PERSONNEL, CLINICAL MEDICINE, COMPARISON, CONTINUITY, DEMOGRAPHY, DEPLOYMENT, EMOTIONS, HEARING, IMPACT, INSTRUMENTATION, LEADERSHIP, OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE, ORDER DISORDER TRANSFORMATIONS, PERFORMANCE(ENGINEERING), QUESTIONNAIRES, RECONNAISSANCE, REMOTELY PILOTED VEHICLES, RESPONSE, SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS, STRESS(PHYSIOLOGY), TRAUMA, UNITED STATES

Subject Categories : Psychology

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE