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Copyright 2014 Los Angeles Times
Many federal programs aimed at preventing psychological problems in military service members and their families have not been evaluated correctly to determine if they are working and are not supported by science, a new report commissioned by the Defense Department says.
"A lot of their programs don't have any good data behind them," said Kenneth Warner, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan who led the Institute of Medicine committee that produced the report. "We remain uncertain about which approaches work and which ones are ineffective."
The 291-page report was especially critical of the Pentagon's biggest and costliest prevention program, known as Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, which is used throughout the Army.
Based on the principles of positive psychology, it includes training in assertiveness, negotiation and coping strategies such as maintaining an optimistic outlook on life. About 900,000 soldiers receive the training each year at a cost of $50 million. The program was recently expanded to include families of service members.
The Army has portrayed it as a success based on internal reviews that found that soldiers saw small improvements on some measures of psychological health.