Volume 4, Number 4—December 1998
Hospitalizations after the Gulf War—Reply to K.M. Leisure et al.
To the Editor: We studied all active-duty Persian Gulf War–era veterans who remained on active duty at the conclusion of deployment (July 31, 1991), not as Leisure et al. stated in their letter "selected, mostly healthy, active-duty Persian Gulf War veterans enlisted as of 1994."
Our study was restricted to hospitalizations of active-duty service members because these were the only service members whose records were available on computerized files. No one was excluded from the defined target population. However, there are "sick Gulf War veterans" and healthy Gulf War veterans not in the target population. The difficulty is in studying either a random sample or the entire population of Gulf War veterans. The only published study we know of the entire population is the mortality report of Kang and Bullman (1).
The suggestion that we should have excluded from the control group service members who had ever been in the Gulf War area would have been appropriate for a report of exposure to the Persian Gulf region; ours was a report of exposure to the Persian Gulf War. That we should have studied a different collection of ICD-9 diagnoses also suggests a different report.
While our study may have limitations, we have not seen objective data that support the anecdotal observations of Leisure et al.
- Kang HK, Bullman TA. Mortality among U.S. veterans of the Persian Gulf War. N Engl J Med. 1996;335:1498–504.