Military deployment to the Gulf War as a risk factor for psychiatric illness among US troops

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Abstract

Background

Several studies document an excess of psychiatric symptoms among veterans of the the 1991 Gulf War. However, little is known about the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in those who were deployed to that conflict.

Aims

To compare the 12-month prevalence and associated risk factors for DSM Axis I psychiatric diagnoses between random samples of Gulf War-deployed veterans and veterans of the same era not deployed to the Persian Gulf (era veterans).

Method

Interview data from 967 Gulf War veterans and 784 era veterans were examined to determine current health status, medical conditions, symptoms and Axis I psychiatric disorders. Logistic regression models evaluated risk factors for psychiatric disorder.

Results

Gulf War veterans had a significantly higher prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses, with twice the prevalence of anxiety disorders and depression. Lower rank, female gender and divorced or single marital status were significant independent predictors of psychiatric disorder.

Conclusions

Deployment to the Gulf War is associated with a range of mental health outcomes more than 10 years after deployment.

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