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Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Jan 1;151(1):63-71.

Are Gulf War veterans suffering war-related illnesses? Federal and civilian hospitalizations examined, June 1991 to December 1994.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences and Epidemiology of the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA 92186-5122, USA.


A previous epidemiologic study demonstrated no unexplained increase in risk for postwar hospitalization among Gulf War veterans who had remained on active duty. The authors sought to expand this study to include Reserve and separated military personnel. They examined hospitalization data from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development hospital systems for the years 1991-1994. Since denominator data were not available, the authors compared the proportional morbidity ratios (PMRs) of hospitalization discharge diagnoses (both large categories and specific diagnoses) between Gulf War veterans and other veterans of the same era. There were no indications that Gulf War veterans were suffering increased PMRs for infectious diseases; neoplasms; endocrine diseases; blood diseases; skin conditions; or diseases of the nervous system, circulatory system, or musculoskeletal system. However, these veterans did experience proportionally more hospitalizations for various specific diagnoses, namely, fractures and bone and soft-tissue injuries (Department of Defense and California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development), various diseases of the respiratory (including asthma) and digestive systems (VA), and diverse symptom diagnoses (VA). While these findings may be influenced by chance or by a number of potential confounders, including health registry participation, they merit further examination using other study designs.

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