Objective: We characterized the prevalence of self-reported environmental exposures, concerns about exposures, and their relationships with somatic symptoms in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) (OIF) veterans seeking treatment at a specialty Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic. Concerns about environmental exposures were expected to lead to more reporting of somatic symptom burden.
Methods: We conducted a chart review of 469 OEF/OIF veterans seen at a VA tertiary care clinic.
Results: OEF/OIF veterans reported a high level of environmental exposures and concerns about environmental exposures. Greater reported environmental exposures (β = 0.13) and environmental exposure concerns (β = 0.39) were associated with a greater somatic symptom burden. Exposure concerns accounted for some of the relationship of exposures on somatic symptom burden (confidence interval, 0.33–0.60).
Conclusions: OEF/OIF veterans seeking treatment at a VA clinic reported a high prevalence of environmental exposures and exposure concerns. Both negatively impacted health outcomes.
From the Department of Veterans Affairs (Drs McAndrew, Teichman, and Osinubi, and Ms Jasien), NJ War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, East Orange; New Jersey Medical School (Dr McAndrew), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark; Teichman Occupational Health Associates, Inc (Dr Teichman), West Orange, NJ; Department of Veterans Affairs (Dr Quigley), Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital, Bedford, Mass; and Northeastern University (Dr Quigley), Boston, Mass.
Address correspondence to: Lisa M. McAndrew, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs, NJ War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, 385 Tremont Ave #129, East Orange, NJ 07018 (Lisa.McAndrew@va.gov).
This article is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC), Department of Veterans Affairs, New Jersey Health Care System. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Government.
There are no conflicts of interest for any of the authors.