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Gulf War and Health: Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War, Volume 4
Canadian Veteran Study
The findings of a 1997 survey (Goss Gilroy Inc. 1998)5 mailed to the entire cohort of Canadian Gulf War veterans were similar to those of the Iowa study. Respondents from Canada who had been deployed to the Gulf War (n = 3,113) were compared with respondents deployed elsewhere (n = 3,439) during the same period. Of the Gulf War veterans responding, 2,924 were male, 189 female. Deployed forces had higher rates of self-reported chronic conditions and symptoms of a variety of clinical outcomes than controls. Those outcomes and symptoms include chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, MCS, major depression, PTSD, chronic dysphoria, anxiety, and respiratory diseases. The greatest differences between deployed and nondeployed forces were in the first three. The symptom grouping with the highest overall prevalence was cognitive dysfunction, which occurred in 34-40% of Gulf War veterans and 10-15% of control veterans. Gulf War veterans also reported significantly more visits to health-care practitioners, greater dissatisfaction with their health status, and greater health-related reductions in recent activity.
The Canadian study did not search for potentially new syndromes.
In Canadian Gulf War veterans, the greatest number of symptom groupings was associated with self-reported exposures to psychologic stressors and physical trauma. Several symptom groupings also were associated with exposure to chemical-warfare agents, absence of routine immunizations, sources of infectious diseases, and ionizing or nonionizing radiation. Nevertheless, a subset of Canadian veterans who, because they were based at sea, could not have been exposed to many of the agents reported symptoms as frequently as did land-based veterans.
United Kingdom Veteran Studies
The UK sent over 53,000 personnel to the Gulf War. From the pool of veterans, two teams of researchers each studied a separate, nonoverlapping, stratified random sample of Gulf War veterans. The first team was from the University of London (Guy’s, King’s, and St. Thomas’s Medical Schools), the second team from the University of Manchester. A third team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine surveyed the entire cohort of 53,000 veterans for a more narrowly focused study of birth defects and other reproductive outcomes.
University of London Veteran Studies
Unwin and collaborators (1999) at the University of London investigated the health of servicemen from the UK in a population-based study. The study used a random sample of the entire UK contingent deployed to the Gulf War6 and two comparison groups. One of the comparison groups was deployed to the conflict in Bosnia (n = 2,620); this made the study the only one to use a comparison population with combat experience during the time of the Gulf War.
In January 1997, Goss Gilroy Inc. was contracted by the Canadian Department of National Defence to carry out an epidemiologic survey of Canadians who served in the Gulf War to establish the overall health status of Gulf War personnel.
UK military personnel in the Gulf War were somewhat different from US personnel in demographics, combat experience, and exposures to particular agents (UK Ministry of Defence, 2000).