Seventeen per cent of veterans believe they have Gulf war syndrome

August 30, 2001

Prevalence of Gulf war veterans who believe they have Gulf war syndrome: questionnaire study BMJ Volume 323, pp 473-6

Seventeen per cent of Gulf war veterans believe they have Gulf war syndrome, find researchers in this week's BMJ. The study has implications for future health protection programmes intended to protect against the threat of chemical and biological warfare.

Questionnaires were sent to a large random sample of British service personnel who served in the 1991 Gulf war. Of 2961 respondents, 17% believed they had Gulf war syndrome. A combination of biological, psychological, and sociological factors were associated with this belief. For instance, these personnel were more likely to have poor health, know someone else who also believed they had the condition, and have received a high number of vaccinations before deployment to the Gulf.

If this sample is representative, about 9,000 of 53,000 British service personnel believe they have Gulf war syndrome, say the authors. The future health needs of all service personnel should now be considered, they conclude.


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