Defense Health Care:

Health Promotion in DOD and the Challenges Ahead

HRD-91-75: Published: Jun 4, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) health promotion program, focusing on whether: (1) it addressed the military services' major health concerns; (2) the program and selected private health promotion programs compared favorably with respect to content and organization; (3) prior health promotion studies analyzed the costs and benefits of health promotion; and (4) DOD anticipated enhancing its program to meet future needs.

GAO found that: (1) the DOD program addressed many of the military services' major health concerns, such as heart disease, cancer, and alcoholism; (2) health promotion programs reviewed at three military installations indicated that the program was comparable to private-sector programs, primarily with respect to content and high management commitment; (3) like private-sector programs, individual DOD components' health promotion programs' comprehensiveness varied across the department; (4) design problems in private-sector health promotion programs' cost-benefit studies limited their representativeness and ability to quantify and link benefits to health promotion interventions; (5) DOD programs were not subject to cost-benefit studies, primarily because it did not accumulate sufficient health promotion activity cost information; and (6) in order for DOD to attain the Department of Health and Human Services' health goals for 2000, it needed to enhance certain aspects of its program, such as collecting baseline data on its target group's health status, behavior, and risks.

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