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Gulf War Illness: Symptomatology Among Veterans 10 Years After Deployment

Smith, Brian N. PhD; Wang, Joyce M. BA; Vogt, Dawne PhD; Vickers, Kristin PhD; King, Daniel W. PhD; King, Lynda A. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 1 - p 104–110
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318270d709
Original Articles

Objective: To further elucidate the nature of illness in veterans of the 1990 to 1991 Gulf War (GW) by examining the GW Illness (GWI) definition advanced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which specified caseness as having at least one symptom from two of the three factors: fatigue, mood-cognition, and musculoskeletal.

Methods: A total of 311 male and female GW veterans drawn from across the nation were assessed in a survey-based study approximately 10 years after deployment.

Results: A total of 33.8% of the probability-weighted sample met GWI criteria. Multiple symptom profiles were found, with more than half of GWI cases endorsing a symptom on all the three factors, and almost all cases endorsing at least one mood-cognition symptom.

Conclusion: Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition has some limitations that should be considered, it remains a useful tool for assessing the presence of illness in GW veterans.

From the Women's Health Sciences Division (Drs Smith, Vogt, and LA King, and Ms Wang), and Behavioral Science Division (Dr DW King), National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Mass; Department of Psychiatry (Drs Smith and Vogt), Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass; Department of Psychology (Dr Vickers), Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, Boston University (Drs DW King and LA King), Boston, Mass.

Address correspondence to: Brian N. Smith, PhD, Women's Health Sciences Division, National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, 150 S Huntington Ave (116B-3), Boston, MA 02130 (

This study was supported by a Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs grant PG Project DoD-87.

The authors report no financial relationships or interests that may be affected by content in the article, or which might potentially bias it.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine