What is the Prevalence of Medical Symptoms in IDF Aircrew?

Research Paper Title

The prevalence of medical symptoms in military aircrew.


The prevalence of medical symptoms in aviators has not been described in the medical literature.


An anonymous questionnaire was handed to all Israeli Air Force aviators who went through the routine yearly examination. Because only two women filled the questionnaire, we excluded them. The questionnaire contained a list of 49 symptoms and the aviators were asked to mark symptoms that were present in the last month before the examination as well as age, estimated weekly flying hours, military service status (reserve or career) and type of aircraft (jet-fighter, helicopter or transport). A general linear model was used to determine the association between age, weekly flying hours, type of aircraft and type of service with the number of symptoms. Binary logistic regression analyses was used to assess the association of these factors with lack of symptoms, and the top five ranking symptoms.


Data was available for 323 male aviators. 62.5% of the aviators reported at least one symptom in the previous month. 26.9% reported three or more symptoms. 25.1% reported spinal symptoms, 22% respiratory symptoms, 21.4% fatigue, 11.5% headache and 6.5% general weakness. Career service was associated with the number of symptoms, fatigue and general weakness. Age was associated with fatigue and general weakness. Aircraft type and weekly flying hours were not associated with any symptom.


Medical symptoms are prevalent in military aviators. Career personnel report on medical symptoms, especially fatigue, more often than reserve personnel. Further study is warranted to examine this association.


Gordon, B., Erlich, Y. & Carmon, E. (2017) The prevalence of medical symptoms in military aircrew. Disaster and Military Medicine. 3:3. doi: 10.1186/s40696-017-0031-1. eCollection 2017.


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