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Psychol Med. 2002 Nov;32(8):1371-8.

Searching for a Gulf War syndrome using cluster analysis.

Author information

1
Department of Biostatistics, Institute of Psychiatry, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, London.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Gulf veterans report medically unexplained symptoms more frequently than non-Gulf veterans did. We examined whether Gulf and non-Gulf veterans could be distinguished by their patterns of symptom reporting.

METHOD:

A k-means cluster analysis was applied to 500 randomly sampled veterans from each of three United Kingdom military cohorts of veterans; those deployed to the Gulf conflict between 1990 and 1991; to the Bosnia peacekeeping mission between 1992 and 1997; and military personnel who were in active service but not deployed to the Gulf (Era). Sociodemographic, health variables and scores for ten symptom groups were calculated.

RESULTS:

The gap statistic indicated the five-group solution as one that provided a particularly informative description of the structure in the data. Cluster 1 consisted of low scores for all symptom groups. Cluster 2 had veterans with highest symptom scores for musculoskeletal symptoms and high scores for psychiatric symptoms. Cluster 3 had high scores for psychiatric symptoms and marginally elevated scores for the remaining nine groups symptom groups. Cluster 4 had elevated scores for musculoskeletal symptoms only and cluster 5 was distinguishable from the other clusters in having high scores in all symptom groups, especially psychiatric and musculoskeletal.

CONCLUSION:

The findings do not support the existence of a unique syndrome affecting a subgroup of Gulf veterans but emphasize the excess of non-specific self-reported ill health in this group.

PMID:
12455935
DOI:
10.1017/s0033291702006311
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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