University Investigates Existence of Gulf War Syndrome

Researchers from The George Washington University School of Public Health will investigate whether symptoms experienced by veterans of the Gulf War represent a specific syndrome.

Dr. Paul Levine, clinical professor of Epidemiolgoy and Biostatistics and clinical professor of Medicine and colleagues at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) will investigate the existence of "Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)."

Levine and his associates were recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to investigate with the Department of Veterans Affairs whether symptoms experienced by veterans of the Gulf War represent a specific syndrome.

While it is clear that many veterans who served in the Gulf War suffer from a variety of illnesses, including chronic fatigue syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder, there currently is no proof that there is a unique illness associated with the Gulf War.

A recent study carried out in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs using a factor analysis identified a cluster of symptoms found primarily in a group of veterans deployed in the Gulf War.

The cluster of symptoms include blurred vision, speech difficulty, hand tremor and unsteadiness.

According to Levine, "It is important to realize that this presumed syndrome is based solely on questionnaire data and has not been confirmed by examinations. The purpose of this grant is to bring in affected an unaffected veterans, both deployed and non-deployed, to confirm whether any consistent health complaints or physical findings can be documented that establish a deployment -related illness actually exists."

In order to determine this, four representative groups of patients will be examined: a group comprising deployed veterans exhibiting the cluster of symptoms; a control group of deployed veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder; a control group of deployed veterans who were not deployed by exhibit symptoms similar to those who were; and a control group of deployed veterans who did not report experiencing these symptoms.

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