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Fit to fight - from military hygiene to wellbeing in the British Army

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Martin C. M. Bricknell, Colonel David A Ross

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medical Research
Issue number1
Early online date7 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020


King's Authors


This paper reviews the historical evolution of the language and organization surrounding the health of personnel in the British Army from 'hygiene' through to 'wellbeing'. It starts by considering the health of the army in the mid-nineteenth century and the emergence of military hygiene as a professional subject. It continues by looking at advances in military hygiene in the two world wars. Hygiene was replaced by the term 'health' in the 1950s as the collective noun used by professionals working in this field. This unity split when the professions of occupational medicine and public health established separate faculties and training pathways. However, the health issues for the armed forces remain fundamentally unchanged. Going forward, the term 'wellbeing' is helping to refresh the close relationships between executives, their medical advisers and those within the population of health professions charged with keeping the British Army healthy. The core theme is the collaborations between civil society, executive leadership and medical services in maximizing the health of the military population from recruitment through to life as a veteran.

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