DoD studying female service member reproductive health for first time in 30 years

Elizabeth Howe
August 10, 2020 - 1:34 pm
Female Engagement Team

DVIDS

For the first time in over 30 years, the Department of Defense will assess the reproductive health of female service members. 

The DoD Active Duty Women’s Reproductive Health Survey, or WRHS, is the first survey specifically focused on the reproductive health of female service members in over 30 years. The survey, launched in August according to a Military Health System Communications Office's statement, will "provide information that can shape policy and clinical care in the area of women’s health." Data will include information on behaviors and experiences that can affect military readiness and inform clinicians about women’s gynecologic and obstetrical care needs. 

A random sample of women will be invited via email to participate. 

“Participants have a great opportunity to provide feedback to help the military identify policies and practices that best meet their needs,” Kimberly Lahm, program director for Patient Advocacy & Experience, Women's, Child & Family Health Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs said. “The WRHS is voluntary and confidential. Selected female service members interested in sharing their feedback are highly encouraged to participate."

The survey results will be analyzed in partnership with the RAND Corporation to determine future policy decisions and resource development. 

The issue of female reproductive health and other health concerns for female service members have received increased focus in recent years. This year's National Defense Authorization Act includes provisions for improved female body armor and female service member access to contraception has been repeatedly reported on in the past three years. 

"Each service can have specific concerns, so we need to hear from all women," Diana Jeffery, Ph.D., project director for the survey from the DHA Clinical Support Division said in a statement. "The goal is to use the data to shape clinical services and evaluate if the reproductive health care needs of active duty women are being met."

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Reach Elizabeth Howe on Twitter @ECBHowe.

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