Health Services Research & Development

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Brown MC, Sims KJ, Gifford EJ, Goldstein KM, Johnson MR, Williams CD, Provenzale D. Gender-based Differences among 1990-1991 Gulf War Era Veterans: Demographics, Lifestyle Behaviors, and Health Conditions. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2019 Jun 25; 29 Suppl 1:S47-S55.
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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The 1990-1991 Gulf War employed more women servicemembers than any prior conflict. Gender-based differences among veterans of this era have yet to be explored. This study is among the first and most recent to stratify Gulf War veteran demographics, lifestyle factors, and self-reported diagnoses by gender. METHODS: Data from the cross-sectional Gulf War Era Cohort and Biorepository pilot study (n = 1,318; collected between 2014 and 2016), including users and nonusers of the Veterans Health Administration, were used to calculate demographics and adjusted odds ratios. RESULTS: Women veterans were oversampled and comprised approximately 23% of the sample. Women reported similar rates of Veterans Health Administration use (44%) and deployment (67%) as men (46% and 72%, respectively). Women were less likely than men to report frequent alcohol use (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43-0.81; p = .0009) or have a history of smoking (aOR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.49-0.84; p = .0014). Among common health conditions, women were more likely than men to report a diagnosis of osteoporosis (aOR, 4.24; 95% CI, 2.39-7.51; p < .0001), bipolar disorder (aOR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.15-4.04; p = .0167), depression (aOR, 2.39; 95% CI, 1.81-3.16; p < .0001), irritable bowel syndrome (aOR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.43-3.09; p = .0002), migraines (aOR, 2.96; 95% CI, 2.18-4.01; p < .0001), asthma (aOR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.29-2.67; p = .0008), and thyroid problems (aOR, 4.60; 95% CI, 3.14-6.73; p < .0001). Women were less likely than men to report hypertension (aOR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.41-0.72; p < .0001), tinnitus (aOR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.33-0.63; p < .0001), and diabetes (aOR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.28-0.69; p = .0003). CONCLUSIONS: Health differences exist between female and male veterans from the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Gender-specific analyses are needed to better understand the unique health care needs of Gulf War Era veterans and direct future research.