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Prevalence of Environmental and Other Military Exposure Concerns in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans

Quigley, Karen S. PhD; McAndrew, Lisa M. PhD; Almeida, Liliana MA; D'Andrea, Elizabeth A. PhD; Engel, Charles C. MD; Hamtil, Heather BA; Ackerman, Adam J. BS

Section Editor(s): Teichman, Ron MD, MPH; Guest Editor

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: June 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 6 - p 659–664
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182570506
Original Articles

Objective: This study examined the prevalence of self-reported exposures in returning Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans and the relationship of exposure reports to current physical symptoms.

Methods: Using self-reports obtained immediately after return from deployment in a cohort of 760 enlisted Army reserve component military personnel, we assessed prevalence rates of environmental and other exposures and the association of these exposures to severity of physical symptoms.

Results: Reporting of environmental exposures was relatively low in veterans of OEF/OIF, but reporting more environmental and other exposures, in particular screening positive for a traumatic brain injury, was related to greater physical symptom severity immediately after deployment.

Conclusions: Non–treatment-seeking, enlisted Army reserve component personnel reported relatively few exposures immediately after return from deployment; however, more exposures was modestly associated with greater severity of physical symptoms when controlling for predeployment symptoms, gender, and other deployment-related exposures.

From the Edith Nourse Rogers VA Memorial Hospital (Dr Quigley), Bedford, Mass; Department of Psychology (Dr Quigley), Northeastern University, Boston, Mass; Department of Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System (Drs Quigley and McAndrew, Ms Almeida, Ms Hamtil, and Mr Ackerman), New Jersey War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (NJ WRIISC), East Orange; Department of Psychiatry (Drs Quigley and McAndrew), New Jersey Medical School-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark; Philadelphia VA Medical Center (Dr D'Andrea), Philadelphia, Pa; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Dr Engel), Bethesda, Md; Department of Psychiatry (Dr Engel), F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md; CSPP (Ms Almeida), Alliant International University, Los Angeles, Calif; and Center for Behavioral Health Services & Criminal Justice Research (Ms Hamtil), Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Address correspondence to: Karen S. Quigley, PhD, Department of Psychology, 125 Nightingale Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, MA; and Center for Health Quality, Outcomes and Economic Research, Building 70, 200 Springs Road, Bedford, MA (k.quigley@neu.edu or karen.quigley@va.gov).

This work was supported by a Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development grant (IIR 02–296) to Dr Quigley while she was employed at the NJ WRIISC. Additional funds were provided by the NJ WRIISC and the Center for Healthcare Knowledge Management (NJ REAP; VA Health Services Research and Development) at the Department of Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System, and by the Deployment Health Clinical Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States government.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine