2015-08-11

Data released for groundbreaking Army STARRS study of mental health and risk and resilience


Researchers have a powerful new resource in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS) (ICPSR 35197). Released in July, Army STARRS is the most extensive study of mental health and risk and resilience among US military personnel ever conducted. It has five components:
  • Historical Administrative Data Study
  • New Soldier Study (NSS)
  • All Army Study (AAS)
  • Soldier Health Outcomes Study
  • Special Studies
The groundbreaking five-year $50-million research project was funded by the US Army and the National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH and the Army partnered with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Michigan; and Harvard Medical School to carry out the study.
NIMH says findings of researchers studying the data, include: 1) The rise in suicide deaths from 2004 to 2009 occurred not only in currently and previously deployed soldiers, but also among soldiers never deployed, and 2) Nearly half of soldiers who reported suicide attempts indicated their first attempt was prior to enlistment.
Steven Heeringa, a survey design expert at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research who was one of the Army STARRS principal investigators, offers a tip to STARRS data users: “I recommend that researchers interested in gaining access to the Army STARRS All Army Survey (AAS) and New Soldier Study (NSS) begin their planning by accessing the Army STARRS Research Instruments page,” Heeringa said.
ICPSR holds the AAS and NSS datasets. Researchers may apply to use the data under a restricted-use data agreement via ICPSR’s Virtual Data Enclave (VDE).

NIH Director Thomas Insel recently blogged that although the first phase of Army STARRS ended on June 30, “its mission will continue through Department of Defense funding as the STARRS Longitudinal Study (STARRS-LS), which could turn this project into something like the Framingham Heart Study, except in this case with a focus on mental health outcomes.”