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Gulf War Follow-up Study

The Follow-up Study of a National Cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans is the third in a series of surveys that examines the health of Veterans who deployed to the Gulf War in 1990-1991 and Veterans who served elsewhere during the same period. The current survey examines trends in health status over time. The results of this study will help VA to better understand the health consequences of military deployment and to guide delivery of health care.

Latest update: Congratulations to Erin Dursa, PhD, MPH. Dr. Dursa won the“Editor’s Award” from the Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health (JMVH) for her article titled “Gulf War Illness in the 1991 Gulf War and Gulf Era Veteran Population: An Application of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kansas Case Definitions to Historical Data.” The Australasian Military Medicine Association, publisher of the JMVH, selected this article as the best article in the journal in the previous 12 months (2018). Dr. Dursa’s article contributes to the scientific literature by moving forward the effort to create a cohesive definition for Gulf War illness and providing population-based estimates of Gulf War illness soon after the war.

Researchers are contacting approximately 30,000 Veterans who were invited to participate in the initial survey in 1995 and a second survey in 2005. Go to Gulf War Longitudinal Health Study for information about the past surveys, including a list of publications that describe research findings.

Goals

Past surveys have helped us to better understand multi-symptom illnesses, chronic diseases, health effects of potential environmental exposures, and other health conditions associated with military deployment.

This research will help VA learn more about the ongoing health of Veterans deployed to the Gulf War in 1990-1991 and Veterans who served elsewhere in 1990-1991.

Participants

We are reaching out to a preselected group of about 15,000 Veterans deployed to the Gulf War in 1990-1991 and about 15,000 Veterans who served elsewhere in 1990-1991. The study group includes Veterans who served in different branches of service, representing active, Reserve, and National Guard members. A special effort was made to ensure women are appropriately represented (women constitute 20 percent of the sample).

This study design requires following individuals over time. We are contacting the same Veterans we reached out to for the past two surveys. We are not accepting volunteers for this study, but encourage those contacted to participate.

Methods

This study began in May 2012, and Veterans received invitation letters during the fall of 2012. Participants were asked to complete a survey on paper, online, or over the telephone. We are also reviewing medical records from a sample of study participants in order to validate reported medical conditions.

Data collection is complete and analyses are ongoing.

Questionnaire topics

Veterans are being asked about the following health issues that may affect them:

  • Chronic medical conditions (including neurological conditions, cancer, autoimmune conditions, respiratory conditions, and gastrointestinal disorders)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness
  • Unexplained multi-symptom illnesses
  • Ability to perform daily functions
  • General health perceptions
  • VA health care use and satisfaction with their care
  • Health behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use, and physical activity
  • Women’s health related topics

Investigators

Erin Dursa, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Aaron Schneiderman, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N.
Shannon Barth, M.P.H.
Matthew J. Reinhard, Psy.D.

Publications

Dursa E, Barth S, Porter B, Schneiderman A. Gulf War illness in the 1991 Gulf War and Gulf Era Veteran population: An application of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kansas case definitions to historical data. J Mil Veterans Health 2018; 26: 43-50.

Porter B, Long K, Rull RP, Dursa EK, Millennium Cohort Study Team. Health Status of Gulf War and Era Veterans Serving in the US Military in 2000. J Occup Environ Med. 2018; 60: e261-e267.

Dursa EK, Barth SK, Schneiderman AI, Bossarte RM. Physical and mental health status of Gulf War and Gulf era Veterans: Results from a large population-based epidemiological study. J Occup Environ Med 2016; 58: 41-46.

Dursa EK, Barth SK, Schneiderman AI, Bossarte RM.  Physical and mental health status of Gulf War and Gulf era Veterans: Results from a large population-based epidemiological study. [Reply to letter of Coughlin S]. J Occup Environ Med 2016; 58: e187.