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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
ACCIDENTS & INJURIES
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General Health & Physical Symptoms
General
Project Summary

Title: Desert Storm Reunion Survey
Synopsis: This project surveys a large group of Gulf War veterans to examine family and unit support factors, war-zone exposure, and PTSD/psychological distress symptoms as potential risk factors leading to physical health problems over a readjustment period of 18 to 24 months.
Overall Project Objective: The Ft. Devens ODS Reunion Survey represents a longitudinal assessment of readjustment of Persian Gulf War veterans returning through Ft. Devens, Massachusetts following their return from the Gulf region.
Status/Results to Date: Over 84 U.S. Army units (n=2949) were surveyed immediately upon their return to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts (Time 1) between April and July 1991. Persons tested at Time 1 represented approximately 60% of the troops that were deployed to the Gulf from that base. Comparisons between this sample and data available for the Ft. Devens military population at large indicate that survey respondents are generally representative of the base's military population. Examination of nonparticipants at Time 1 indicated random absences for administrative and medical purposes. The original cohort contained 2,709 men and 240 women with a mean age of 30.2 years (SD = 8.6) and 13.2 years of education (SD = 1.8). The majority of troops were Caucasian (87.4%) and reservists (52.2% National Guard; 19.9% Army reservists; 27.9% active duty). Active duty troops had more black members and were significantly younger in age compared to Guard and Reserve Troops. Overall, veterans in the original cohort do not fully reflect military assignments or ethnic and gender compositions of the total U.S. Army or Gulf force (U.S. Government Accounting Office, 1992; communication with Defense Manpower Data Center). Consistent with the Ft. Devens' mission, a higher than average proportion of the original sample had combat support and service support positions during the war, rather than active combat roles. Approximately 18-24 months after initial testing, veterans were resurveyed (Time 2) to reevaluate their adjustment. This survey repeated all Time 1 measures and queried other relevant domains including work status, family and social functioning, health status, health service use, and intervening life stressors. In the majority of cases, the Time 2 survey was readministered in persons during weekend unit drills. Persons in units that could not be scheduled in a timely fashion were resurveyed using an identical questionnaire sent through the mail. A total of 2,313 persons successfully completed the Time 2 survey (2,119 men, 194 women; Wolfe et al., 1993), yielding an overall response rate of 78%. Analyses of these data show no significant Time 1 related differences between Time 2 respondents and non-respondents on most background or outcome measures (e.g., educational level, PTSD symptomatology). However, individuals who did not complete the Time 2 reevaluation were more likely to be younger and on active duty status. Based on veterans' verbal and written comments concerning their health status at Time 2, the Time 3 investigation was designed to reexamine overall adjustment with a special emphasis on physical health and psychological status and to evaluate cognitive functioning by neuropsychological test methods on a subset of the larger cohort. The Time 3 study is now Project VA-4B. A Time 4 resurvey of the entire Devens cohort is being conducted as part of the study "Female gender and other potential predictors of functional health status among Persian Gulf war veterans" (see Project DoD-52).
Project:VA-7
Agency:Department Of Veterans' Affairs
Location:VAMC Boston
P.I. Name:Susan P Proctor, DSc
Research Type:Clinical
Research Focus:Brain & Nervous System
Focus Category:General Health & Physical Symptoms
Status:Complete
Study Start Date:April 01,1991
Estimated Completion Date:September 30,1995
Specific Aims: 1. Describe troop demographics of the Ft. Devens cohort of Persian Gulf War veterans; 2. Examine, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, family and unit support factors, war-zone exposure, PTSD and pyschological distress symptomatology in these veterans; 3. Examine physical health status at Time 2 and explore potential risk factors important in the development of adverse physical health after return from a wartime environment.
Methodology: Subjects were recruited from a group of approximately 5000 Persian Gulf War veterans who returned home through Ft. Devens, Massachusetts after the Gulf War. The survey at Time 1 constituted a broad range of demographic questions accompanied by an assessment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptomatology (Mississippi Scale for Combat-related PTSD; Keane, Cadell & Taylor, 1988); general psychological well-being (Brief Symptom Inventory, BSI; Derogatis & Melisaratos, 1983); and combat exposure (Gallops, Laufer & Yager 1981; Rosenheck, 1992); along with queries of other relevant domains including change in work status, current family and social functioning, and post-deployment major life stressors (e.g., death of a loved one, separation or divorce, loss of property, physical or sexual assault). At Time 2, additional questions were added to further assess psychological health and physical health symptoms. Individual health symptoms were assessed using the 20-item Health Symptom Checklist (Bartone et al., 1989) which asked subjects to indicate the presence and frequency of symptoms over the past several weeks using Likert-type ratings (0=none, 1=a little, 2=often, 3=very often). In addition, subjects were asked to rate their current physical and psychological health separately (`poor', `fair', `good', `very good' or `excellent'), as well as to rate changes in their physical and psychological health since return from the Persian Gulf (`much worse', `worse', `same', `better' or `much better').
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

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

Wolfe J, Kelley JM, Bucsela ML, Mark WR. Ft. Devens Reunion Survey: Report of Phase 1, War-zone stress among returning Persian Gulf Troops. Legislative Report to Congress, Final Report, 1992. Report

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. Preliminary report of reunion survey on Desert Storm returnees. Legislative Report to Congress, 1991. Report

Wolfe J, Brown P, Kelley JM. Reformulating war stress: Exposure and the Persian Gulf. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 15-31, 1993. Article