BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal injuries are a problem in military personnel as they detract from force readiness and may prevent deployment. Injuries occur during basic training at three times the rate observed in post-training military service and more commonly in part time (PT) when compared to full time (FT) army personnel. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in rates and patterns of reported injuries between full time (FT) and part time (PT) personnel undertaking army basic training.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted to determine and compare rates and patterns of injuries which occurred during basic training in PT and FT personnel. Injury data from the period 01 July 2012 to 30 June 2014 was obtained in a non-identifiable format from the Workplace Health, Safety, Compensation and Reporting (WHSCAR) database of the Australian Department of Defence. Analysis included descriptive statistics and the calculation of injury rates and injury rate ratios.
RESULTS: A total of 1385 injuries were reported across FT and PT cohorts, with an injury rate ratio for FT:PT of 1.06 [0.80-1.40], when accounting for exposure. In FT personnel, 1192 (90%) were Minor Personal Injuries (MPIs) and 43 (3.2%) Serious Personal Injuries (SPIs). In PT personnel, 147 (94.8%) were MPIs and three (1.9%) SPIs. In both FT and PT personnel, injuries most commonly: occurred during Physical Training (41.7% FT, 515 MPIs, 10 SPIs, 32% PT. 48 MPIs, 1 SPI); affected the knee (FT 41.7% 159 MPIs, 7 SPIs, PT 36.0%, 22 MPIs, 0 SPIs); involved soft tissue damage (FT 60.9%, 744 MPIs, 8 SPIs, PT 69.3%, 103 MPIs, 1 SPI); and were due to muscular stress (FT 41.7%, 509 MPIs, 6 SPIs, PT 36%, 54 MPIs, 0 SPIs).
CONCLUSIONS: FT and PT recruits exhibited similar injury profiles, with mechanisms, sites and types of injuries in agreement with other research. Given these similarities, effective interventions that reduce injury risks in either population will likely benefit both.