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Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Aug 15;152(4):379-88.

Factor analysis of self-reported symptoms: does it identify a Gulf War syndrome?

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


Active duty US Naval mobile construction battalion personnel (Seabees) were surveyed in 1994 for the presence of a variety of symptoms. Questions were drawn from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist and from a collection of symptoms either defining clinical depression or commonly reported by Persian Gulf War veterans. Of those surveyed, 524 were Gulf War veterans and 935 were nondeployed Gulf War-era veterans. Factor analysis applied to Gulf War veterans yielded five factors, three deriving from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, one suggesting clinical depression, and one containing symptoms commonly reported by Gulf War veterans. Factor analysis applied to nondeployed veterans yielded five similar factors. Three of the factors yielded statistically significantly greater standardized factor scores for Gulf War veterans than for nondeployed veterans. Four of the factors resembled factors resulting from a previous analysis on a sample of similar Gulf War veterans. Gulf War veterans and nondeployed era veterans reported similar clusters of symptoms and illnesses. However, Gulf War veterans reported these same clusters with greater frequencies than did nondeployed veterans. The authors conclude that, in contrast to a previous report, factor analysis did not identify a unique Gulf War syndrome.

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