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Research Topics
Health and Human Services Department of Defense Veterans Affairs Health and Human Services Gulf War Information Department of Defense Gulf War Information Veterans Affairs Gulf War Information Home Home Advanced Search Glossary FAQs Site Map Contact Us
 Research Topics    |    Major Focus Areas
Research Topics
General Health & Physical Symptoms
Project Summary

Title: Female Gender and Other Potential Predictors of Functional Health Status Among Persian Gulf War Veterans
Synopsis: The study looks at Gulf War Veterans to try to determine if any risk factors exist that may pre-dispose a person to multiple chemical sensitivities syndrome.
Overall Project Objective: Identify and describe the effects of potential predictors on the functional health status and health perceptions of male and female veterans approximately four years after their deployment to the Persian Gulf. (As part of the Defense Womens' Health Research Program).
Status/Results to Date: After 3 mailings of the Time 4 questionnaire, approximately 50% of the original Devens cohort of 2,949 PGW veterans returned completed surveys. Additional phone surveys were conducted to targeted non-responders to assess the extent to which they differed from responders. There were few significant differences in the demographics of responders compared to non-responders. Weighting procedures were applied, where appropriate, to minimize the effects of potential response bias. This project determined that there were important differences in the reporting of health symptoms between men and women and that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and self-reported environmental exposures were associated with health symptoms. The investigators also found that there were no significant gender differences in the effect of the reported environmental exposures. This study represents the fourth assessment phase of the Devens Cohort Study, a longitudinal study of New England-area Gulf War veterans who have been followed since their return from the Gulf region in 1991. Longitudinal analyses of data collected, cross-sectional analyses, and manuscript preparation continue to examine questions relating to changes in physical and emotional health over time and associated risk factors in this cohort of Gulf War veterans.
Agency:Department Of Defense
Location:VAMC Boston
P.I. Name:Susan P Proctor, DSc
Research Type:Epidemiology
Research Focus:Brain & Nervous System
Focus Category:General Health & Physical Symptoms
Study Start Date:September 11,1995
Estimated Completion Date:July 01,1999
Specific Aims: This study was intended to advance DoD screening and intervention efforts aimed at enhancing positive military and post-deployment adaptation among soldiers, especially women. Specifically examine if and how identified risk factors differed between female and male veterans. Ascertain the prevalence of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)-like symptoms reported among this population. Explore risk factors for the development of this syndrome.
Methodology: By using cross-sectional and longitudinal data from an existing, carefully followed military cohort and by expanding predefined measures of health symptoms, and health perceptions, this investigation conducted analyses that focused directly on: (a) defining the set of reported environmental and psychosocial combat-theater exposures and physical health variables associated with female and male soldiers recent deployment; and, (b) describing the relationship of these variables to functional status and self-reported physical health. This study represents the Time 4 assessment wave of the Devens Cohort Study. A primary emphasis was on investigating the role or impact of gender, specifically, whether female gender is a significant factor in predicting either functional health status or health perceptions. Data analyses proceeded through a series of three major stages. The initial stage involved generation of descriptive analyses for all variables of interest and permitted comparison of responses between women and men. The second stage involved the determination of bivariate odds ratios of gender, PTSD diagnostic status, and environmental exposure on functional health status. The third stage involved multivariate regression procedures to examine the effects of gender, PTSD and reported environmental exposure on functional status and on self-reported health. In addition, an exploratory analysis was conducted of the comprehensive symptom review results with respect to the diagnosis of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. One of the first steps in ascertaining the prevalence of MCS-like symptoms among this study population was developing a survey instrument that could be used to identify subjects with MCS-like symptoms. Up to that point, there had been only one survey instrument validated to assess MCS symptoms. We developed and validated a shortened version of this existing questionnaire on patients referred to the Massachusetts Respiratory Hospital, and controls recruited by participating patients (Hu et al., 1999). This shortened questionnaire was incorporated into the study survey.
Most Recent Publications:

Orcutt HK, Erickson DJ, Wolfe J. A prospective analysis of trauma exposure: The mediating role of PTSD symptomatology. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 15(3):259-66. Jun 2002. Abstract

Wagner AW, Wolfe J, Rotnitsky A, Proctor SP, Erickson DJ. An investigation of the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder on physical health. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 13(1):41-55, Jan 2000. Abstract

Proctor SP. Chemical Sensitivity and Gulf War Veterans Illnesses. Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Reviews: Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, 15 (3), 587-599, 2000. Book

Proctor SP, Heaton K, White RF, Wolfe J. Chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue in Gulf War veterans: a brief report. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 43(3): 259-264, Mar 2001. Abstract

Sharkansky EJ, King DW, King LA, Wolfe J, Stokes LR. Coping with Gulf War combat stress: mediating and moderating effects. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109(2):188-97, May 2000. Abstract

Wolfe J, Erickson DJ, Sharkansky EJ, King LA, King DW. Course and predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Gulf War veterans: A prospective analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol, 67(4):520-8, Aug 1999. Abstract

Hu H, Stern A, Rotnitsky A, Schlesinger L, Proctor SP, Wolfe J. Development of a brief questionnaire for screening for multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome. Toxicology and Industrial Health, 15(6):582-8 Oct 1999. Abstract

Erickson DJ, Huang MT, Wolfe J. Explaining higher PTSD symptomatology among reservists: Test of a mediation model. N/A, Submitted for Publication, 2000. Manuscripts

Proctor SP, Herren T, White RF, Wolfe J, Borgos MS, Davis JD, Pepper L, Clapp R, Sutker PB, Vasterling JJ, Ozonoff D. Health status of Persian Gulf War veterans: Self-reported symptoms, environmental exposures and the effect of stress. International Journal of Epidermiology, 27(6):1000-10, Dec 1998. Abstract

Wolfe J, Proctor SP, Davis JD, Sullivan M, Friedman MJ. Health symptoms reported by Persian Gulf War veterans two years after return. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 33(2):104-13, Feb 1998. Abstract

Proctor SP, Harley R, Wolfe J, Heeren T, White RF. Health-related quality of life in Persian Gulf War Veterans. Military Medicine, 166(6):510-9, Jun 2001. Abstract

White RF, Proctor SP, Heeren T, Wolfe J, Krengel M, Vasterling J, Lindem K, Heaton K, Sutker PB, Ozonoff DM. Neuropsychological function in Gulf War veterans: relationships to self-reported toxicant exposures. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 40(1):42-54. Jul 2001. Abstract

Erickson DJ, Wolfe J, King DW, Kin LA, Sharkansky EJ. Posttraumatic stress disorder and depression symptomatology in a sample of Gulf War veterans: A prospective analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol, 69(1):41-9, Feb 2001. Abstract

King DW, King LA, Erickson DJ, Huang MT, Sharkansky EJ, Wolfe J. Posttraumatic stress disorder and retrospectively reported stressor exposure: A longitudinal prediction model. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109(4):624-33, Nov 2000. Abstract

Wolfe J, Brown P, Kelley JM. Reassessing war stress: exposure and the Gulf War. Journal of Social Issues, 1993. Article

Wolfe J, Proctor SP, Erickson DJ, Heeren T, Friedman MJ, Huang MT, Sutker PB, Vasterling J, White RF. Relationship of psychiatric status to Gulf War veterans' health problems. Psychosomatic Medicine, 61(4):532-40; Jul- Aug, 1999. Abstract

Wolfe J, Erickson DJ, Proctor SP, Hu H. Risk Factors for the development of multisymptom illness in U.S. veterans of the Gulf War: the Fort Devens cohort study. N/A, Submitted for publication, 1999. Manuscripts

Wolfe J, Proctor SP, Erickson DJ, Hu H. Risk factors for multisymptom illness in US Army veterans of the Gulf War. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 44(3):271-81. 2002. Abstract

Wolfe J, Sharkansky EJ, Read J, Dawson R, Martin JA, Ouimette PC. Sexual harassment and assault as predictors of PTSD symptomatology among U.S. Persian Gulf War personnel. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 40-57, 1998. Article

Wolfe J, Brown P, Bucsela ML. Symptom responses of female Vietnam veterans to Operation Desert Storm. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149(5):676-9, May 1992. Abstract