Military employment commonly exposes personnel to strenuous physical exertion. The resulting interaction between occupational stress and individual susceptibility to illness demands careful management. This could extend to prospective identification of high physiological strain in healthy personnel, in addition to recognition and protection of vulnerable individuals. The emergence and ubiquitous uptake of ‘wearable’ physiological and medical monitoring devices might help to address this challenge, but requires that the right questions are asked in sourcing, developing, validating and applying such technologies. Issues that must be addressed include system requirements, such as the likelihood of end users deploying and using technology as intended; interpretation of data in relation to pretest probability, including the potential for false-positive results; differentiation of pathological states from normal physiology; responsibility for and consequences of acting on abnormal or unexpected results and cost-effectiveness. Ultimately, the performance of a single monitoring system, in isolation or alongside other measures, should be judged by whether any improvement is offered versus existing capabilities and at what cost to mission effectiveness.
- organisation of health services
- risk management
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Contributors All the authors substantially contributed to the drafting, editing and approval of the final manuscript.
Competing interests All of the authors are engaged in the study of physiological monitoring systems in healthy UK Defence Personnel.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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