Study of Health Outcomes in Aircraft Maintenance Personnel (SHOAMP)
Associate Professor Catherine D'Este, Dr John Attia, Associate Professor Julie Byles, Dr Anthony Brown (Director Population Health and Planning, Macquaries Area Health Service, Dubbo; Conjoint Associate Professor Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Newcastle), Associate Professor Nick Higginbotham, Dr Jon Adams, Associate Professor Peter Schofield, Professor Michael Hensley, Associate Professor Robert Gibberd, Dr Michael Allen, Dr Chris Levi
This study was commissioned by the Australian Department of Defence in response to concerns of adverse health outcomes in Air Force personnel who carried out activities relating to the F-111 aircraft ful tank sealant repair [Deseal / Reseal (DSRS)] programs from 1975 to 1999.
The project is a retrospective cohort study which aims to answer the question "Is there an association between adverse health status and an involvement in F-111 DSRS activities? If so, what is the nature and strength of those associations?"
There are three main phases to the study:
Conduct of an extensive literature review, in-depth qualitative interviews, identification of personnel determined to have been exposed to potential health hazards and definition of appropriate comparison groups, and finalisation of measures.
The literature review included occupational medicine, potential effects of different chemical agents, genetic epidemiology and general environmental health; developing a definition of who was "exposed" to potentially damaging agents versus the types of workers who can take part in the "comparison" group; and the conduct of a small number of face-to-face interviews with personnel who carried out different activities as part of the deseal/reseal process to hear about their involvement. This Phase also involves the development of a Protocol for the conduct of the General Health and Medical Study which is Phase 3.
Study of incidence of mortality and cancer in exposed group versus control groups.
This involved a Mortality and Cancer Incidence sub-study, where the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare compared data from "exposed" personnel with a group of comparison workers who weren't involved in the same type of work, yet had other similar characteristics such as rank, mustering, also perform aircraft maintenance work and are the same age and gender.
Conduct of health and medical assessments and neuro-psychological testing of exposed and control groups, data analysis and report writing.
This represents the General Health and Medical Study, which commenced in October 2002 and was conducted in three regions of Australia. This Phase involves extensive medical assessments for participants in both the "exposed" and "comparison" groups. Each person is invited to complete a postal questionnaire and take part in a full medical examination by specially trained practitioners from Health Services Australia. The Study includes assessment of vision, hearing, mood and personality, skin problems, lifetime smoking and alcohol habits, reproductive history, tests for liver and immunological function, markers of genetic damage as well as general health indices such as blood pressure and cholesterol. There are eight further regions to commence health assessments for SHOAMP, including Newcastle.