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Mil Med. 2006 May;171(5):370-5.

Patterns of health care seeking of Gulf War registry members prior to deployment.

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  • 1Institute of Medicine, Medical Follow-up Agency, Washington, DC 20001, USA.


Following the Gulf War (GW), large numbers of individuals reported illness that they attributed to exposures encountered during the GW deployment. In response, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense established programs and registries for the evaluation and documentation of GW-related illness. We obtained registrants' medical records, which contained information on outpatient encounters during the 1-year period before their GW deployment, to determine whether registrants with multisymptom illness (cases) have patterns of predeployment health care seeking that are different from those of well registrants (controls). We found that subjects had significantly more predeployment outpatient visits than controls, but this varied by type of visit. Although the number of certain types of predeployment outpatient visits is significantly associated with subsequent multisymptom illness, these associations will have limited predictive value. These findings increase our understanding of multisymptom illness, especially its chronic nature, and justify doing additional studies.

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