Worldwide Survey Series

To help monitor the extent of drug and alcohol abuse, the DoD initiated a series of worldwide surveys among active-duty military personnel in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The first survey was conducted by Marvin Burt Associates in 1980 (Burt et al., 1980) and the others by Robert Bray and his colleagues at Research Triangle Institute in 1982, 1985,1988, 1992, 1995, and 1998 (Bray et al., 1983, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1999b). The goals of the surveys have been to provide data to help assess the prevalence, correlates, and consequences of substance abuse and health in the military.

The surveys have all been conducted using similar methods. Civilian researchers first randomly selected a sample of about sixty military installations to represent the armed forces throughout the world. At these designated installations, they randomly selected men and women of all ranks to represent all active-duty personnel. Civilian research teams administered printed questionnaires anonymously to selected personnel in classroom settings on military bases. The few personnel (about 10%) who were unable to attend the group sessions (e.g., were on leave, sick, or temporarily away from the base) were mailed questionnaires and asked to complete and return them. Participants answered questions about their use of illegal drugs (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, heroin), the misuse of prescription drugs (e.g., stimulants, tranquilizers), about the frequency and amount of alcohol use, and problems resulting from drug or alcohol use. These data collection procedures yielded from over 15,000 to nearly 22,000 completed questionnaires for the various surveys. From 59 percent to 84 percent of those eligible to take part actually did so.

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