April 25, 2003 3:16 PM   Subscribe

The Defense Medical Surveillance System (DMSS). The "engine" of the DMSS is a continuously growing relational database of up-to-date and historical data related to medical events, personal characteristics, and military experiences of all Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine service members over their entire military careers. [It] is available to all military and civilian researchers, policy makers and others with a need to evaluate the health of active duty service members.
posted by the fire you left me (1 comment total)
Not much there for us citizens, fire. If you want to see the kinds of use this database is put to, you have to go to the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, which includes all sorts of aggregate studies, such as this one on Mortality Trends Among Active Duty Personnel 1992-2001. Most of it's as expected -- 5/8 of deaths are due to accidents, fewer than 1% from terrorism or combat (even including 9/11) -- but there are a few striking deviations: Homicides. Female, Black, enlisted, and single servicemembers were more frequent victims of homicide than their respective counterparts (table 1). Homicide was the only specific manner of death in which women had a higher rate than men. On the other hand, men commit suicide four times as often as women servicemembers; and illness takes an increasing toll with age, tripling after age 35, and octupling for the 40-65 age group.

Alternatively, read DMSS and the DoD Serum Repository: Glimpses of the Future of Public Health Surveillance, which outlines how this fits into the broader trend of public health surveillance systems and how the DMSS feeds into the civilian systems that we have.

We need only look to China and SARS to see how important such systems are (after avoiding the problem for months, China is only this week moving to handle SARS the way that other nations and institutions are); and as one of the country's largest employers, with postings all over the world, the Pentagon is in a unique position to provide early warning as part of the epidemiological community.
posted by dhartung at 4:54 PM on April 25, 2003

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