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Comparative Health Assessment Interview Research Study


The Comparative Health Assessment Interview (CHAI) Research Study investigates the effects of military service, deployment, and combat on the health and well-being of Veterans who served during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND). Researchers are studying physical and mental health, finances and occupation, and social relationships of deployed Veterans, non-deployed Veterans, and civilians who were similar in demographic characteristics to the Veterans.

Latest update: VA researchers have completed survey data collection and neurocognitive function tests. They are now analyzing survey responses.

Study Objectives

  • Describe and compare differences in the health and well-being of post-9/11 Veterans.
  • Determine the effect of military service on health and well-being by examining differences between post-9/11 Veterans and civilians.
  • Describe the effect of military service, deployment, and combat exposure on the current and lifetime prevalence of any mental health condition, and of specific conditions, including PTSD.
  • Identify gender differences in the health and well-being of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans compared with OEF/OIF/OND era Veterans and civilians, controlling for other demographic characteristics.


The CHAI Research Study used a cross-sectional observational design that was fielded in three phases:

  • A Pretest comprised of nine cognitive interviews and 14 timing tests of the Veteran version of the Core Survey conducted with a small, purposively selected sample of post-9/11 Veterans.
  • A mixed-mode Core Survey self-administered by web and interviewer-administered by computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) to a large, nationally representative probability sample of post-9/11 Veterans and by web with a comparison sample of civilians selected from a nationally representative probability sample of the general U.S. population.
  • An in-person Neurocognitive Assessment with a subsample of 304 Veterans who completed the Core Survey
  • Data collection was conducted between January and September, 2018


Respondents to the surveys included more than 15,000 Veterans and more than 4,600 civilians, a comparison group. 300 Veteran participants also completed the neurocognitive assessments.

This study is closed to enrollment and is not accepting volunteers. Are you interested in participating in a VA study? Learn more about other VA research studies that may be seeking participants.


The study survey asked questions about:

  • Military service and demographics
  • Physical and mental health and well-being
  • Satisfaction in work and social relationships
  • Income and Economic Stability
  • Health Care Access
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
  • Hazardous Exposures
  • Self-Reported Deployment Status
  • Combat Related Measures
  • Warfare Exposure Measure
  • Moral Injury in War
  • Highly Stressful Events and Potentially Traumatic Events
  • PTSD
  • Mood, Anxiety and Other Mental Health Conditions
  • Suicide Risk
  • Unwanted Sexual Experiences (Veterans)
  • Substance Use

Both the Veteran and civilian versions of the survey were designed to provide a direct comparison of experiences and health among these study groups.


Aaron Schneiderman, PhD, MPH, RN
Fatema Akhtar, MS
Paul Bernhard, BA
John Blosnich, PhD, MPH
Yasmin Cypel, PhD, MS
Victoria Davey, PhD, MPH, RN
Erin Dursa, PhD, MPH
Dana Rose Garfin, PhD*
Claire Hoffmire, PhD
Shira Maguen, PhD
Shanna Smith, MPH
Dawne Vogt, PhD

* Collaborator from the University of California, Irvine