Is systemic lupus erythematosus, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or fibromyalgia associated with Persian Gulf War service? An examination of Department of Defense hospitalization data.
Since the Persian Gulf War ended in 1991, veterans have reported diverse, unexplained symptoms. Some have wondered if their development of systemic lupus erythematosus, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or fibromyalgia might be related to Gulf War service. The authors used Cox proportional hazard modeling to determine whether regular, active-duty service personnel deployed to the Persian Gulf War (n = 551,841) were at increased risk of postwar hospitalization with the three conditions compared with nondeployed Gulf War era service personnel (n = 1,478,704). All hospitalizations in Department of Defense facilities from October 1, 1988, through July 31, 1997, were examined. With removal of personnel diagnosed with any of the three diseases before August 1, 1991, and adjustment for multiple covariates, Gulf War veterans were not at increased risk of postwar hospitalization due to systemic lupus erythematosus (risk ratio (RR) = 0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.65, 1.35). Because of the small number of cases and wide confidence limits, the data regarding amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were inconclusive. Gulf War veterans were slightly at risk of postwar hospitalization for fibromyalgia (RR = 1.23, 95% Cl: 1.05, 1.43); however, this risk difference was probably due to the Gulf War veteran clinical evaluation program beginning in 1994. These data do not support Gulf War service and disease associations.
Smith, TC; Gray, GC; Knoke, JD
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