Trends in Research with US Military Service Member Participants

Research Paper Title

Trends in Research with US Military Service Member Participants: A Population-Specific Review.

Background reviews have evaluated research trends for specific conditions and age groups but not for specific populations of research participants. No reviews have evaluated research with military service member participants.

Study objectives were:

  1. To use to identify trends in biomedical research from 2005 to 2014 in which US military service members actively participated as research participants; and
  2. To describe a search strategy for adaptation in future reviews of specific participant populations.


A systematic review of was performed to identify studies that included US service members as participants, either exclusively or with other groups of participants.


US service members were identified as participants in 512 studies. Service members participated together with other groups in 392 studies, while 120 studies included only service members. The top five conditions of interest were post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, amputations, burns, and ocular injuries/disorders. The number of studies started each year peaked in 2011 and declined from 2012 to 2014. Twenty-five percent of studies exclusive to service members aimed to enroll 500 or more participants. Research exclusive to Guard and Reserve service members during this period was limited.


US military service members participate in biomedical research. To address the health needs of US service members, it is important to ensure there is not a prolonged decline in research among this population. The search strategy may be adapted to reviews of specific participant populations for which straightforward searches are not possible.


Cook, W.A., Doorenbos, A.Z. & Bridges, E.J. (2016) Trends in Research with U.S. Military Service Member Participants: A Population-Specific Review. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications. 3, pp.122-130. Epub 2016 Apr 30.


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