SPH to Share $1.1M for Gulf War Women’s Research

Posted on: November 21, 2016 Topics: gulf war, veteran health, veterans

About 7 percent of the 697,000 military personnel who served in the 1991 Gulf War were women, representing the largest proportion of US women serving in a war zone in military history at that time. In the 25 years since then, the percentage of female veterans living with health conditions linked to Gulf War Illness (GWI) may have surpassed that of their male counterparts, some studies suggest.

Now, a study that includes researchers from the School of Public Health will examine the prevalence and patterns of health symptoms among women who served, with the aim of guiding future advances in clinical treatment for women veterans. The research group, led by Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences, has received a $1.1 million Gulf War Illness Epidemiology Research Award from the US Department of Defense.

SPH has a subcontract for $322,000 to help develop the Gulf War Women’s Health Cohort (GWWHC), a large database of nearly 8,000 female veterans who served during the 1991 Gulf War and participated in previous and ongoing population studies. Kimberly Sullivan, research assistant professor of environmental health, will serve as a co-investigator and site principle investigator and the Data Coordinating Center (DCC) will manage the data. The group will collect and examine survey data from veterans on topics including the prevalence and patterns of symptoms among men and women, diagnosed medical conditions, and reproductive health and birth outcomes.

Gulf War Illness refers to a group of chronic symptoms that affect men and women who served in the war. The symptoms include fatigue, headaches, concentration and memory problems, joint and muscle pain, and gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders.

Sullivan said the BU research team will share information from its 300 GWI Consortium surveys and coordinate surveys from three other groups around the country into one large military women’s health database. Her team also will devise and orchestrate a re-survey of women’s health outcomes, with study partners including Maxine Krengel from the School of Medicine, Lea Steele from Baylor Medical College, Nancy Klimas from Nova Southeastern University, and Penny Pierce and Candy Wilson from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. SPH will coordinate all of the data and collaborate with lead investigator Steven Coughlin, associate professor at Augusta University College of Allied Health Sciences.

Sullivan, who is leading a large multi-site consortium study exploring brain-immune interactions in Gulf War Illness, said she is hopeful that the new study will improve the understanding of causes and symptoms of GWI in women. She noted that few studies have evaluated the potential long-term health problems uniquely affecting women veterans.

“We’re so pleased to be part of this research effort,” said Sullivan, who has worked on several studies of Gulf War veterans over the years, including those focused on cognitive functioning, brain imaging and blood-based biomarkers in treatment-seeking veterans. “It’s important to understand whether Gulf War Illness manifests differently in women than in men. Our goal is to generate findings that can help to shape health policy regarding the long-term surveillance and treatment of military women.”

Kristy Lidie, program manager for the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, said the grant is intended to help “obtain a better understanding of mortality, morbidity and symptomatology over time in veterans deployed in the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War and afflicted by GWI.”

Lisa Chedekel


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24 comments

  1. How do you become part of this study? I am a GW female vet and have many symptoms/illnesses. I am service connected for 5 of them.

    1. Hi Tamara,

      We are sorry to hear that you are having health problems. If you would still like to learn more about our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

  2. I was on the USS Cape Cod AD – 43 during Desert Storm, my doctor at the VA has diagnosed me with just about everything but GWI. Several of the other women who were onboard have multiple diagnosis that are the same. Joint pain, fibromyalgia, IBS, lactose intolerance, vitamin D deficiency, fibrous tumors (I had one removed from my wrist, and one on my uterus that my doctor hasn’t done anything about) chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis starting at a young age….the list goes on.

    1. Hi Virgie May,

      If you would still like to learn more about our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu. We would like to help you in any way we can.

  3. Thank you for studying this important and frustrating issue, and for concentrating on female veterans who sometimes get overlooked.

    I work with a veterans group specifically associated with Desert Storm, and am in contact with a number of female vets who have never participated in any study or have even registered with the VA. Is there a way for them to join the Gulf War Women’s Health Cohort?

    1. Hi Duane,

      Thank you for your interest in our research. We would love to have them participate in our study. Please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

    1. Hi Janice,

      If you would still like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

  4. Hello,
    I just saw a post on FB that you are looking for female VETS who served in the Gulf War. I am a female and I served in the Navy. I was overseas while in the Navy.

    I can be reached at 732-207-3613

    Thanks
    Angela

    1. Hi Angela,

      If you would still like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

  5. I am a Retired Army Captain Physician Assistant and I served in the Gulf War from August 8, 1990 to April 2, 1991. I was a Combat Medic in the 82nd Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, I traveled all over Saudi & Iraq, treated causalties on both sides as well as process deceased on both sides. I am 100% Total & Permanent Disabled. I have been diagnosed & Service-Connected thru the VA with GWI (Chronic Fatigue, Migraines, IBS & Fibromyalgia). I received a Combat Medical Badge as I served & supported the 1/17th CAV and LRST soldiers in my unit. Going out on patrol and engaged in enemy fire.

    I am interested in learning more about what is going on with me and what other possible medical treatments that are out there to help my chronic pain, neuropathies, insomnia, memory issues, depression and the list goes on….

    Please let me know. Thanks AATW!

    1. Hi Robin,

      Thank you for your interest in our research! If you would still like to learn more about our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

    1. Hi Ursula,

      Thank you for your interest in our research. If you would still like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

    1. Hi Dorothy,

      We are sorry to hear about your health problems. If you would like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thank you for your interest in our research. If you would still like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      If you would still like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

  6. Your commitment is so admirable! In most cases, we’ll just focus our attention on the people who joined the war and most of them were men. I believe that your new research on the objective of women will drive more people, especially the administrators in the government, caring for the health of women. Besides, I think that children whose parent has joined the war also need to be considered and cared of.

  7. I thank the staff for addressing this issue. You the effects of my war exposures have changed over the years. Many women who were Acutely ill from 1994 to 2004 have learn to live with their poor Quaility of Life. They burned out this the medical community and I fear we not hear from them again because they fear they will lose/decrease disability Ratings/Funds. Now I seek a study for the Children of GWV.

    1. Hi Anjetta,

      If you would still like to learn more about getting involved in our study or want information about seeking health care and treatment, please call us at 617-358-1717 or email us at GWIC@bu.edu.

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