Persistence of symptoms in Veterans of the first Gulf War: 5-year follow-up

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Background: During the 1990-1991 Gulf War, approximately 700,000 U.S. troops were deployed to the Persian Gulf theater of operations. Of that number, approximately 100,000 have presented medical complaints through various registry and examination programs. Objective: Widespread symptomatic illness without defining physical features has been reported among veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. We ascertained changes in symptom status between an initial 1995 symptom evaluation and a follow-up in 2000. Methods: We assessed mailed symptom survey questionnaires for 390 previously surveyed members of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Gulf War Registry for changes over the 5-year interval in terms of number and severity of symptoms. Results: For the cohort as a whole, we found no significant changes in symptom number or severity. Those initially more symptomatic in 1995 showed some improvement over time, but remained much more highly symptomatic than those who had lesser initial symptomatology. Conclusions: The symptom outbreak following the 1991 Gulf War has not abated over time in registry veterans, suggesting substantial need for better understanding and care for these veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1553-1557
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Gulf War illness
  • Medically unexplained symptoms


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