The prevalence of flight-related neck pain in all Royal Air Force (RAF) aircrew is 66% and 70% in UK fast-jet aircrew. The RAF Aircrew Conditioning Programme (ACP) has been designed to enhance pilot performance through reducing fatigue and strain injuries, particularly to the neck. Content validity of the ACP was assessed to determine the appropriateness for delivery to aircrew.
Six international medical experts reviewed level two of the ACP, which is delivered to student aircrew who have completed basic instruction in cervical spine stability, core stability and initial technique instruction for strength training. Content validity on overall exercise approach (5 items) and specific exercise session (24 items) was rated on a 4-point Likert-type ordinal scale for Relevance and Simplicity.
Four reviewers had experience of delivering an exercise programme to aircrew. The item-content validity index (I-CVI) was the proportion of experts rating an item/exercise as acceptable (score 3-4) while protocol-CVI was the average I-CVI across items.
Of the suggested exercise sessions:
- 20 reached an excellent I-CVI (1.00) for Relevance (4 reached acceptable I-CVI (0.83));
- 21 reached an excellent I-CVI (1.00) for Simplicity (3 reached acceptable I-CVI (0.83)); and
- Protocol-CVI for the ACP was excellent for Relevance (0.90) and good for Simplicity (0.83).
The need for sufficient supervision during the exercises was recommended for safe exercise execution and to maintain adherence.
The ACP demonstrated excellent relevance for the target population. The aircrew require additional supervision with the more complex neck exercises to enhance simplicity with the ACP.
Slungaard, E., Green, N.D.C., Newham, D.J. & Harridge, S.D.R. (2018) Content validity of level two of the Royal Air Force Aircrew Conditioning Program. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 89(10), pp.896-904.