Alcohol Use and Selected Health Conditions of 1991 Gulf War Veterans: Survey Results, 2003-2005
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Alcohol Use and Selected Health Conditions of 1991 Gulf War Veterans: Survey Results, 2003-2005

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English

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    Introduction

    A sizable literature has analyzed the frequency of alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking among veterans. However, few studies have examined patterns of alcohol use in veterans of the first Gulf War or factors associated with problem drinking in this population. We examined the frequency and patterns of alcohol use in male and female veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War or during the same era and the relationships between alcohol use and selected health conditions.

    Methods

    We analyzed data from a follow-up survey of health information among population-based samples of 15,000 Gulf War and 15,000 Gulf Era veterans. Data had been collected from 9,970 respondents during 2003 through 2005 via a structured questionnaire or telephone survey.

    Results

    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), unexplained multisymptom illness (MSI), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)–like illness were more frequent among veterans with problem drinking than those without problem drinking. Approximately 28% of Gulf War veterans with problem drinking had PTSD compared with 13% of Gulf War veterans without problem drinking. In multivariate analysis, problem drinking was positively associated with PTSD, MDD, unexplained MSI, and CFS–like illness after adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, branch of service, rank, and Gulf status. Veterans who were problem drinkers were 2.7 times as likely to have PTSD as veterans who were not problem drinkers.

    Conclusion

    These findings indicate that access to evidence-based treatment programs and systems of care should be provided for veterans who abuse alcohol and who have PTSD and other war-related health conditions and illnesses.

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