A US-UK comparison of health in 1990-1991 Gulf War veterans

K. Ismail, N. Fear, M. Flanagan, B. Doebbeling, S. Wessely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: UK and US military personnel appear to have different health profiles yet direct comparisons of health status and deployment exposures between US and UK military populations have never been performed. Aims: To compare US and UK military personnel deployed to the 1991 Persian GulfWar (PGW) for rates of symptom reporting, medical conditions and health status [Short Form-36 general health perception (GHP) and physical functioning (PF) subscales] and self-report military exposures. Methods: We analysed representative cross-sectional samples of military personnel from the Iowa Persian Gulf Study (n = 3626) and the UK Health Survey of Military Personnel (n = 5573) that included directly comparable measures and stratified by those who had been deployed to PGWand those who had not been deployed to PGW. Results: Although UK veterans had similar mean PF scores as US veterans (mean differences in PGW: 0.86, 95% CI -0.36 to 2.07 and in non-deployed -0.61, 95% CI -1.84 to 0.62), they had worse mean GHP scores (mean differences in PGW: -5.62, 95% CI -7.44 to -3.80 and in non-deployed -3.83, 95% CI -5.40 to -2.27). UK PGW veterans were more likely to report Gulf specific exposures, and this was associated with worseGHP(UK mean difference -9.05, 95% CI - 11.49 to-6.61 versus US mean difference -4.30, 95% CI -6.62 to -1.98). Conclusions: This study observed transatlantic variations in health status in military populations that may reflect cultural differences in the reporting of health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-489
Number of pages7
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Persian Gulf War
  • Quality of life
  • Symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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