INTRODUCTION: Female soldiers comprise an important component of any modern army, yet little research has been performed to investigate differences in the profiles of injuries reported by qualified female and male army personnel.
AIM: The aim of this study was to compare injury rates and patterns between female and male soldiers of the Australian Regular Army (ARA).
METHODS: Data pertaining to all injuries reported by ARA members over a two-year period were accessed from the SENTINEL database and analysed descriptively. Findings regarding injury patterns were reported by most common location, nature, mechanism, and activity being performed at the time of injury. Injury incidence rates (IR) were calculated based on population size, and injury incidence rate ratios (IRR) comparing female and male injury rates were determined.
RESULTS: A total of 8750 injuries were recorded across the two-year time period (2018-2020) of the study (minor injuries: n = 1766 female, n = 6870 male; serious injuries: n = 19 female, n = 95 male). Higher incidence rates of minor injuries were reported for female soldiers (IR = 20.75 injuries/100 soldiers/year) when compared to male soldiers (IR = 13.60 injuries/100 soldiers/year), with an IRR of 1.53 [95% CI = 1.46-1.60]. More serious injuries were reported at a similar rate between female (IR = 0.22/100 soldiers/year) and male soldiers (IR = 0.21/100 soldiers/year), with an IRR of 1.05 [95% CI = 0.65-1.72]. Female soldiers tended to report more ankle injuries than male soldiers who reported more knee injuries. Physical training and combat training were the most common causes of injury for both sexes.
DISCUSSION: There were subtle differences in body locations of minor injuries within female and male soldiers. Both minor and more serious injury profiles were otherwise similar between sexes. Therefore, strategies required to minimise injuries in female soldiers may be similar in many respects to strategies required for male soldiers but require some differences to account for the subtle differences in body locations of injury, and so to ensure effectiveness across all personnel.