STUDY OF 10,020 ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY AND FAMILIES FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF UNIQUE PERSIAN GULF WAR ILLNESS
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Stephen Joseph todaysummarized the results of over 10,000 systematic clinical evaluations of activeduty military personnel and their families accomplished through theComprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program (CCEP).
"These findings tell us agreat deal about the suffering of our Persian Gulf veterans and allow us toprovide the care needed to help them recover," Dr. Joseph said.
According toJoseph, the large number of participants and the thoroughness of CCEPexaminations provide considerable clinical insight for understanding the natureof illnesses and health complaints being experienced by a group of veteranswhose illnesses may be related to military service in the Persian Gulf.
Dr. Joseph indicated that "Our CCEP experience to date, involving intensiveevaluations of over 10,020 patients, continues to show no clinical evidence fornew or unique illnesses or syndromes among Persian Gulf veterans." Results ofthe CCEP are consistent with conclusions of a National Institutes of HealthTechnology Assessment Workshop that "no single disease or syndrome is apparent,but rather multiple illnesses with overlapping symptoms and causes."
"Severe disability," Dr. Joseph went on to say, "is not a major characteristicof the clinical profile of CCEP participants." This finding was measured bylost work days.
Most, 81 percent, had not missed work because of illness orinjury during the 90 days prior to their initial evaluation; only seven percentself-reported missing more than one week due to illness.
The pattern of symptoms as reported by CCEP participants is similar to thatseen in studies of the general U. S. population and patients seeking primarycare.
Also, the pattern of diagnostic categories for CCEP patients parallelsthat seen in general medical practice.
However, mental/psychological;musculoskeletal and connective tissue; and, signs, symptoms, and ill-definedconditions appear to occur more frequently in CCEP patients.
The most common psychological conditions among CCEP patients include tensionheadache, mild or stress-related anxiety or depression, post traumatic stressdisorder and alcohol-related disorders.
Musculoskeletal problems include jointpain, osteoarthritis and back ache.
CCEP participants with generalizedsymptoms and conditions have problems such as joint pain, headache, sleepdisturbances and fatigue.
As with similar patients in the general population,these conditions or problems frequently lack a clear-cut or discrete physicalexplanation or "cause."
This report of the CCEP includes findings specific to 136 spouses and 81children of Gulf War veterans who participated in the evaluation program.
Thediagnostic range of illnesses among these patients also is quite broad.
Dr. Joseph stressed that this is not the end of Defense efforts to helpPersian Gulf veterans and their families to identify reasons for their symptomsand illnesses.
The CCEP will continue with periodic reports, and the body ofknowledge will be supplemented through the on-going and planned DoD/DVAsponsored research as well as epidemiologic studies involvingcontrol/comparison populations to characterize further the health consequencesof the Persian Gulf War.
Dr. Joseph indicated that the body of informationgathered through the CCEP case series will eventually be made available toindependent researchers to conduct further scientific research.
Note to Editors: Reference may be made to a previously announced, toll-freeGulf War incident reporting line for those who served in the Persian Gulf War.This service offers these veterans the opportunity to report details first-handof incidents they believe may have led to a medical problem they or others haveexperienced since returning from the Persian Gulf.
The number is1-800-472-6719 and operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.(EDT).