The Gulf War Syndrome
Many veterans of the Gulf War report debilitating illnesses that are unlike any described in medical textbooks. Can statistical methods be used to test what is going on here? Review the data presented in the attached peer reviewed manuscript entitled Prevalence of Gulf war veterans who believe they have Gulf war syndrome: questionnaire study (see attachment below).
Chalder, T., Hotopf, M., Unwin, C., Hull, L., Ismail, K., and David, A, Wessely, S. (2001). Prevalence of Gulf war veterans who believe they have gulf war syndrome: Questionnaire study. Gulf War Research Unit, Guy’s King’s College, London.
Identify methodology, data collection and discuss in a statistical content (i.e., probability, frequency) the results of this paper.
Explain and analyze the effectiveness of the statistics methods to determine the impact of Gulf War syndrome on U.S. Military Veterans.
Based on this paper and any additional resources (.i.e, cite sources), address whether or not current support the prevalence of Gulf War Syndrome.
The Gulf War Syndrome
Methodology, Data Collection, and Results
Chadler et al. (2001) investigated how often British ex-soldiers believed they had the Gulf War Syndrome. Their collected data via a questionnaire and two follow-ups. They also obtained ethical approval since the study involved sensitive human information. The first category of questions provided demographic data, including sex, age, educational level, marital status, military status and rank, and ethnicity. The researchers also established the respondents’ primary duties during the Gulf War. Lastly, they determined the self-reported prevalence of the Gulf War Syndrome and other related health needs.
Two thousand nine hundred sixty-one participants completed all three surveys, giving a response rate of 69.7%. Next, 513 (17.3%) believed they had GWS. Most served in lower rank capacities and were not likely to still be in the military. 47% of those who thought they had GWS were smokers. Comparatively, 34% of those who did not believe they had GWS smoked.
The use of questionnaires facilitated self-evaluation, which enhances reporting authenticity. However, questionnaires are also subject to personal bias. Hence, while using a self-reporting questionnaire was necessary, its credibility is limited. The researchers used univariate analysis to compare GWS perceptions and other health issues. This statistical approach allowed them to obtain objective correlations between GWS and disability and diverse health outcomes.
Prevalence of the Gulf War Syndrome
The US Department of Veteran Affairs (2021) defines GWS as a “chronic multi-symptom illness.” The lack of a systematic syndrome makes it hard to quantify the prevalence of the disease. Nevertheless, the self-reported rate is higher among deployed veterans than undeployed ones (Tragesre, 2020). Hence, healthcare providers cannot dismiss the syndrome as a manifestation of other health and social welfare challenges. A unified approach that considers the syndrome a continuous health need could be useful. It allows caregivers to customize the therapeutic process, improving the veterans’ health outcomes (Mawson & Croft, 2019). Therefore, the current evidence supports the presence of GWS. However, the causes and manifestations remain unclear.
Chadler, T., Hotopf, M., Unwin, C., Hull, L., Ismail, K., David, A., & Wessely, S. (2001). Prevalence of Gulf war veterans who believe they have Gulf war syndrome: questionnaire study. BMJ, 323(7311), 473–476. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7311.473
Mawson, A. R., & Croft, A. M. (2019). Gulf War Illness: Unifying Hypothesis for a Continuing Health Problem. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(1), 111. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010111
Tragesre, K. J., Sebastian-Valverde, M., Naughton, S. X., & Pasinetti, G. M. (2020). The Innate Immune System and Inflammatory Priming: Potential Mechanistic Factors in Mood Disorders and Gulf War Illness. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00704
US Department of Veteran Affairs. (2021, Oct. 28). Gulf War Veterans’ Medically Unexplained Illnesses. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/medically-unexplained-illness.asp