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Health Study of Gulf War Era Veterans

The Longitudinal Health Study of Gulf War Era Veterans examines the health status over time of 1990-1991 deployed Gulf War Veterans and Veterans not deployed to the Gulf. Researchers conducted an initial survey in 1995 and a second survey in 2005.

Latest update: Researchers contacted Veterans for a third survey for the Follow-up Study of a National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans.

Goals

Researchers want to know:

  • How does the health of Gulf War Veterans change over time?
  • Ten or more years after the war, is the health of Veterans deployed to the Gulf War better, worse, or the same as Veterans who served elsewhere during the Gulf War?

Participants

15,000 Veterans deployed to the Gulf War and 15,000 Veterans who served elsewhere during the Gulf War have been invited to participate. We are not accepting volunteers for this study.

Methods

We mailed survey questionnaires, conducted telephone interviews, and reviewed medical records.

Questionnaire topics

  • Chronic medical conditions
  • PTSD and other psychological conditions
  • Functional status
  • Mortality
  • General health perceptions
  • Health care utilization
  • VA disability compensation

Investigators

Han Kang, Dr.P.H.
Clare Mahan, Ph.D.
Bo Li, Ph.D.
Seth Eisen, M.D.
Charles Engel, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.

Research highlight

A 2011 scientific article, Longitudinal health study of US 1991 Gulf War veterans: Changes in health status at 10-year follow-up, finds that Gulf War Veterans’ health has worsened over time compared to the health of Gulf War-era Veterans who served elsewhere.

Deployed Gulf War Veterans reported not only higher rates in the new onset of disease, but previously reported health problems lasted longer. These Veterans were more likely to experience new onset of arthritis, hypertension and coronary heart disease than their military peers. They also reported higher rates of ongoing unexplained multi-symptom illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness, along with higher health care utilization, including frequent clinic visits and recurrent hospitalization.

Researchers evaluated health data from 5,469 Gulf War-deployed Veterans and 3,353 Veterans who served elsewhere during the Gulf War. These Veterans participated in an initial survey in 1995 and a second survey in 2005.


Publications

Our first publication on this study, Illnesses among United States veterans of the Gulf War: A population-based survey of 30,000 veterans, presents an initial account on the health of Veterans who served during the Gulf War.

From the 2005 survey

Li B, Mahan CM, Kang HK, Eisen SA, Engel CC. Longitudinal health study of US 1991 Gulf War veterans: Changes in health status at 10-year follow-up. Am J Epidemiol 2011.

Coughlin SS, Kang HK, Mahan CM. Alcohol use and selected health conditions of 1991 Gulf War veterans: survey results, 2003-2005. Prev Chronic Dis 2011;8(3).

Coughlin SS, Kang HK, Mahan CM. Selected health conditions among overweight, obese, and non-obese veterans of the 1991 Gulf War: Results from a survey conducted in 2003-2005. The Open Epidemiology Journal 2011; 4:133-139.

Kang HK, Li B, Mahan CM, Eisen SA, Engel CC. Health of U.S. veterans of 1991 Gulf War: A follow-up survey in 10 years. J Occup Environ Med 2009;51:401-410.

From the initial 1995 survey

Kang HK, Dalager NA, Mahan CM, Ishii E. The role of sexual assault on the risk of PTSD among Gulf War veterans. Ann Epidemiol 2005;15:191-195.

Mahan CM, Page WF, Bullman TA, Kang HK. Health effects in Army Gulf War veterans possibly exposed to chemical munitions destruction at Khamisiyah, Iraq: Part I. Morbidity associated with potential exposure. Mil Med 2005;170:935-944.

Page WF, Mahan CM, Kang HK, Bullman TA. Health effects in Army Gulf War veterans possibly exposed to chemical munitions destruction at Khamisiyah, Iraq: Part II. Morbidity associated with notification of potential exposure. Mil Med 2005;170:945-951.

Mahan CM, Kang HK, Dalager NA, Heller JM. Anthrax vaccination and self-reported symptoms, functional status, and medical conditions in the National Health Survey of Gulf War Era Veterans and Their Families. Ann Epidemiol 2004;14:81–88.

Kang HK, Natelson BH, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Murphy FM. Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness among Gulf War veterans: A population based survey of 30,000 veterans. Am J Epidemiol 2003;157:141–148.

Young HA, Simmens SJ, Kang HK, Mahan CM, Levine PH. Factor analysis of fatiguing syndrome in Gulf War era veterans: implications for etiology and pathogenesis. J Occup Environ Med 2003;45:1268–1273.

Kang HK, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Murphy FM, Simmens SJ, Young HA, Levine PH. Evidence for a deployment related Gulf War syndrome by factor analysis. Arch Environ Health 2002;57:61-68.

Kang HK, Magee C, Mahan C, Lee K, Murphy F, Jackson L, et al. Pregnancy outcomes among U.S. Gulf War veterans: A population-based survey of 30,000 veterans. Ann Epidemiol 2001;11:504–511.

Kang HK, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Magee CA, Murphy FM. Illnesses among United States veterans of the Gulf War: A population-based survey of 30,000 veterans. J Occup Environ Med 2000;42:491–501.