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Health of US Veterans of 1991 Gulf War: A Follow-Up Survey in 10 Years

Kang, Han K. DrPH; Li, Bo MA; Mahan, Clare M. PhD; Eisen, Seth A. MD, MSc; Engel, Charles C. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 4 - p 401-410
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181a2feeb
Fast Track Article

Objective: To assess periodically the health status of a cohort of 1991 Gulf War veterans by comparing various health outcomes with those of their military peers who were not deployed to the Gulf.

Methods: We conducted a follow-up health survey to collect health information among population-based samples of 30,000 veterans (15,000 Gulf War veterans and 15,000 Gulf Era veterans) using a structured questionnaire.

Results: Gulf veterans reported significantly higher rates of unexplained multi-symptom illness, chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness, posttraumatic stress disorder, functional impairment, health care utilization, a majority of selected physical conditions and all mental disorders queried during the survey than did Gulf Era veteran controls.

Conclusions: Fourteen years after deployment, 1991 Gulf War veterans continue to report a higher prevalence of many adverse health outcomes, compared with Gulf Era veterans.

From the Department of Veterans Affairs (Dr Kang, Dr Mahan), Environmental Epidemiology Service; Institute for Clinical Research Inc. (Ms Li), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Washington DC; Department of Veterans Affairs (Dr Eisen), Health Services Research and Development Service; and Department of Defense (Dr Engel), Deployment Health Clinical Center at Walter Reed, Wash.

Address correspondence to: Han K. Kang, DrPH, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Epidemiology Service, 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington DC 20420; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine