Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Millennium Cohort Family Study being conducted, and what is a cohort?

The Department of Defense determined a need to collect data to evaluate the health of service personnel and their families. The Millenium Cohort Family Study and Millennium Cohort Service member study work together to address this need using survey methodology. The Family Study is designed to determine if, and how, deployment experiences and Service member readjustment issues impact family health and well-being. The Family Study also provides a unique opportunity to explore the impact of relationship quality on the physical and psychological health of Service members, their spouses and children. A comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by military families provides a vehicle to create truly effective interventions and support mechanisms.

A cohort study follows a distinct group of people over an extended period of time. In epidemiological research, only a cohort study has the strength to describe long-term health outcomes that are of concern to the military. Important health facts, which may seem obvious now, were not always known to be true - they were learned through cohort studies. For example, we know that smoking causes lung cancer and that untreated high blood pressure causes heart disease. But less than 50 years ago, these relationships were not clear.

Individuals included in the Family Study are the spouses of participants in the Millennium Cohort Study. Participation in the Family Study is completely voluntary.

Who is conducting the study and by whose authority?

"The Millennium Cohort Family Study" is a project sponsored by the US Department of Defense. The study is being conducted by the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, California. DMDC Reference #: 00-0019. RCS #: DD-NAVY(AR)2678. OMB approval #: 0703-0064.

How will my participation in this study make a difference?

The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of military service and deployment on family health. There are a limited number of participants taking this survey, so every individual response is needed for this to be a successful study. Ultimately, the greatest benefits of this study will not be known for many years. However, your participation is a critical step in developing programs and interventions to increase the well-being of Service members and their families. It is essential to stay involved with the study even if your spouse separates from the military.

Will any members of my sponsor's (or my) Chain-of-Command or promotion boards ever see the information that I provide on the questionnaire?

This study is for research purposes only. Information you provide is not available to your spouse's (or your) superiors or promotion boards.

Are there risks to participation?

The study team understands the sensitivity of health-related information. All survey responses are confidential and will not be shared with military commands, disability evaluators, insurance companies, or anyone not directly involved in data analysis. All data are maintained securely (see "How Safe is My Information", below). Only summary information from the entire Family Study cohort, with no identifying information, will be published.

My sponsor is no longer in the military, can I still take part?

Absolutely. We need your participation even if your spouse (or you) are no longer serving in the military. The Millennium Cohort Family Study is designed to research the effects military service may have on Service members' and their families’ health over a period of many years, including after military service is complete.

My sponsor and I are no longer married, can I still take part?

We need your participation even if you and your sponsor are separated, or divorced.

How often will I have to submit a survey?

You will be asked to complete one survey via the Web or postal mail, every three years over the next twenty-one years. You are free to withdraw from the study at any time, however your continued input in the study will be of great value to the advancement of military medicine.

What if I move?

If you move or change duty stations, we ask that you contact us via phone or mail to let us know your new contact information.

How safe is my information?

Very safe. The information you provide on your questionnaire is protected and stored in conjunction with a Subject ID number instead of your name. Only Millennium Cohort Family Study researchers have access to the data. Information stored on computers is protected by all measures required by DoD computer security regulations. Additionally, information cannot be obtained through requests from organizations such as insurance companies.

Can I participate even though I was not invited?

Thank you for your interest in the Millennium Cohort Family Study. The scientific validity of this study requires study investigators to follow certain protocols. Unfortunately, this means that only those who receive invitations can currently participate.