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Article title: Facts About the Persian Gulf War Study: CDC-OC
Conditions: Gulf War syndrome
The University of Iowa College of Medicine, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Persian Gulf War military personnel from Iowa reported significantly higher rates of certain medical and psychiatric conditions than their counterparts in the military who were not deployed to the Persian Gulf. The results of this CDC funded study appear in the January 15, 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers found that in comparison with those who did not serve in the Gulf War, Gulf War military personnel from Iowa were more likely to report symptoms suggestive of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, bronchitis, asthma, fibromyalgia, alcohol abuse, anxiety disorder, and sexual discomfort. Investigators also found that service in the Persian Gulf War substantially affected the self-reported assessment of quality of life and functional health status. Among the Persian Gulf War veterans, researchers found relatively few differences between the frequency of medical and psychiatric conditions reported by National Guard or Reserve members and regular military personnel.
The purpose of the study was to compare the frequency of self-reported symptoms and illnesses between Gulf War military personnel and contemporary military personnel not deployed to the Persian Gulf. Since previous reports suggested that National Guard and Reserve troops might have more health problems than regular military personnel serving in the Persian Gulf, researchers also explored the relationship between self-reported medical and psychiatric conditions and type of military service. The health information gathered from this study was obtained from 3,700 randomlyselected military personnel from Iowa who completed a telephone interview.
Because this study was a population-based epidemiological study, the types and frequency of self-reported health problems are probably similar in other populations of military personnel deployed to the Gulf. The researchers point out that the results of this study should not be over-interpreted. Findings from this study establish the need to further investigate the causes, clinical nature, and public health implications of the higher rates of self-reported health problems of the Persian Gulf War military personnel. More objective clinical measurement of these specific medical and psychiatric conditions should be addressed in future studies to determine what type of underlying illnesses, medical conditions, or other concerns might be related to these self-reported conditions.
Summary of Key Findings
The study is one of the first population-based epidemiologic studies to document that Persian Gulf War veterans are reporting more medical and psychiatric conditions than their military peers who were not deployed to the Persian Gulf.
The study has identified several specific medical and psychiatric conditions that need to be studied in more detail.
The medical and psychiatric conditions identified in the study appear to have had a measurable impact on the functional activity and daily lives of Persian Gulf veterans.
The medical and psychiatric conditions identified in the study may not be unique to Persian Gulf War and may be similar to the experience of veterans of other wars.
Among the Persian Gulf War veterans, minimal differences were observed between the National Guard or Reserve troops and the regular military personnel, indicating that all military personnel, regardless of military service, were affected by deployment to the Persian Gulf.
The Iowa Persian Gulf Study Group. Self-reported illness and health status among Gulf War veterans. JAMA 1997;277:238-45. (Abstract)
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