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Chronic Multisymptom Illness in Gulf War Veterans: Case Definitions Reexamined

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More than 2 decades have passed since the 1990-1991 conflict in the Persian Gulf. During the intervening years, many Gulf War veterans have experienced various unexplained symptoms that many associate with service in the gulf region, but no specific exposure has been definitively associated with symptoms. Numerous researchers have described the pattern of signs and symptoms found in deployed Gulf War veterans and noted that they report unexplained symptoms at higher rates than nondeployed veterans or veterans deployed elsewhere during the same period. Gulf War veterans have consistently shown a higher level of morbidity than the nondeployed, in some cases with severe and debilitating consequences. However, efforts to define a unique illness or syndrome in Gulf War veterans have failed, as have attempts to develop a uniformly accepted case definition.

Chronic Multisymptom Illness in Gulf War Veterans is a comprehensive review of the available scientific and medical literature regarding symptoms for chronic multisymptom illness (CMI) among the 1991 Gulf War Veterans. This report evaluates and summarizes the literature in an effort to identify appropriate terminology to use in referring to CMI in Gulf War Veterans. While the report does not recommend one specific case definition over another, Chronic Multisymptom Illness in Gulf War Veterans does recommend the consideration of two case definitions on the basis of their concordance with the evidence and their ability to identify specific symptoms commonly reported by Gulf War veterans. This report recommends that the Department of Veterans Affairs use the term Gulf War illness rather than CMI. The report recommends that that the Department of Veterans Affairs, to the extent possible, systematically assess existing data to identify additional features of Gulf War illness, such as onset, duration, severity, frequency of symptoms, and exclusionary criteria to produce a more robust case definition.


Suggested Citation

Institute of Medicine. 2014. Chronic Multisymptom Illness in Gulf War Veterans: Case Definitions Reexamined. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

130 pages | 8.5 x 11
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-29876-6
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-29880-3

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