In December 1997, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene a group of experts to address the issue of measuring the health of Persian Gulf War (PGW) veterans. The purposes of this study are to (1) identify questions regarding the evaluation of the health status of active-duty troops and veterans deployed to the Persian Gulf, (2) identify issues to be addressed in the development of study designs and methods that would be used to answer such questions, and (3) develop a research design(s) and methods that could be used to address such questions. A committee of individuals with expertise in outcomes analysis, study design, research methods, statistics, epidemiology, health status measurement, military databases, clinical medicine, and PGW veterans' health was convened to conduct the study.
The committee organized a workshop on May 7, 1998, the purpose of which was to provide its members with background information on the health concerns of PGW veterans and an overview of research on this topic as a starting point for committee deliberations. This report of the presentations and discussion at that invitational workshop is being prepared in response to a request from the study sponsors, DVA and DoD. The report is strictly a summary of the workshop. It does not contain committee findings or recommendations because the committee has not yet conducted a systematic evaluation of the information presented by the speakers, nor has it reviewed the additional research conducted but not presented during the workshop.
The topics covered included descriptive statistics of PGW veterans' symptoms, complaints, and diagnoses; population and sample survey research; health databases within DVA and DoD; PGW veteran research efforts in the United Kingdom; and reflections on the health of patients in the DoD Specialized Care Program. A period was also devoted to open testimony, and DoD contractors presented a concluding discussion of a draft research protocol. The agenda and participant list appear in Appendix A.