• Article

Behavioral and occupational fitness

Behavioral health and occupational health contribute substantially to a healthy military force. To assist commanders in monitoring and supporting their troops, we review the role of behavioral health on military fitness, including substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs) and psychophysical behaviors associated with weight and sleep problems. We also examine the role of occupational health, including psychosocial factors (stress and social influence), and environmental factors (physical, chemical, and biological stressors). We summarize components that negatively affect service members' mental and physical functioning, greatly reducing readiness. The military's stand on illicit drug use and fitness has significantly reduced problems within these domains. Some progress has been made in reducing problems associated with alcohol, tobacco, and accident prevention. Little headway, however, has been made in the prevention and treatment of insomnia. Recommendations are offered for further improving behavioral and occupational health within the context and capacity of current military environments.


Bray, R., Spira, J., Rae Olmsted, K., & Hout, J. J. (2010). Behavioral and occupational fitness. Military Medicine, 175(Suppl. 1), 39-56.