Introduction Changes in recruitment procedures reduced early dismissal rates from Swiss military basic recruitment schools; however, such improvements were not reflected in premature discharge rates from the special forces (SF) (Grenadier) recruitment school.
Method A six-item questionnaire designed to identify recruits likely to be subject to premature dismissal on psychological or psychiatric grounds was developed and prospectively validated. The questionnaire was based on an analysis of medical and psychiatric/psychological records of 26 recruits dismissed from a SF recruitment school. Six items were identified that appeared to have prognostic value for early discharge. These six questions were submitted to the remaining applicants in the recruitment school by a suitably qualified psychologist or psychiatrist and effectively identified candidates who would be discharged early. Based on these results a 0–6 scale was developed and applied prospectively to subsequent Grenadier recruitment courses.
Results Statistical analysis showed that 75% of candidates with the lowest scores would eventually complete the course and that no candidates with highest scores would subsequently complete the recruitment course.
Discussion Prospective studies in subsequent recruitment courses candidates with high scores were classified as not qualified to enter the course, and those with intermediate scores were subject to additional in-depth interviews with a psychologist or psychiatrist to determine their suitability. In the following courses a correlation was established between the questionnaire score and week of discharge for those discharged. Application of this method during subsequent recruitment courses has reduced early dismissal from Swiss SF recruitment schools.
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Contributors LG: author. FJ, FM and ML: psychologists.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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