Chronic Widespread Pain in Veterans of the First Gulf War: Impact of Deployment Status and Associated Health Effects

Valerie L. Forman-Hoffman, Paul M. Peloso, Donald W. Black, Robert F. Woolson, Elena M. Letuchy, Bradley N. Doebbeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Our study sought to 1) determine if deployment status is associated with chronic widespread pain (CWP), and 2) evaluate whether veterans with CWP have greater psychiatric comorbidity, higher health care utilization, and poorer health status than veterans without CWP. Five years after the conclusion of the first Gulf War (August 1990 to June 1991), we conducted a cross-sectional study of veterans who listed Iowa as the home of record using a stratified sampling design to determine their health status. We compared the prevalence of CWP between deployed and nondeployed veterans. Logistic and multiple linear regression models were constructed to test whether CWP was associated with comorbidities and health-related outcomes of interest. Five hundred ninety of 3695 veterans interviewed (16%) had CWP. Gulf deployment was associated with higher prevalence of CWP than deployment elsewhere (OR = 2.03, 95%CI = 1.60-2.58), after adjustment. Both deployed and nondeployed veterans with CWP reported more health care utilization and comorbidities and lower health-related quality of life scores than veterans without CWP. Deployed veterans were more likely to have CWP than nondeployed veterans, and CWP was associated with poor health outcomes. Military and medical personnel should be aware that efforts to prevent, identify, and treat CWP in veterans returning from the current war may be needed. Perspective: This article indicates that deployed veterans may have an increased risk for development of CWP, which is associated with greater healthcare utilization and comorbidity and lower quality of life. The risk of poor health outcomes suggests that veterans returning from the present conflict should be screened for CWP on their return.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-961
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic pain
  • Gulf War
  • comorbidity
  • health care utilization
  • health status
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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