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VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP)

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National Health Survey of Gulf War Veterans and Their Families

Main study:
National Health Survey of Gulf War Veterans and Their Families (also known as Longitudinal Health Study of Gulf War Era Veterans)

Follow-up studies: 
Follow-up Study of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans  
CSP #458: National Health Survey of Gulf War Era Veterans and Their Families - Phase III Physical Examinations


Investigator Access

What's available

Check publications for information on a public dataset, data archive, data enclave, or website where data might be available

Available documentation 

Dates data are available 

Access criteria

Study Characteristics


To assess periodically the health status of a cohort of 1991 Gulf War Veterans by comparing mental and physical health outcomes with those of their military peers who were not deployed to the Gulf

Era of Service

Gulf War Era


  • Deployed and nondeployed Gulf War Era Veterans from each branch of the military, Active duty, Reserve, and National Guard members
  • The sample included male and female Veterans who served in the military between September 1990 and May 1991

Study Design 

Longitudinal population-based cohort study

Time Period 

  • 1995 baseline survey 
  • Follow-up surveys conducted in 2001 through CSP #458, 2005 and 2012-2013



1995: 11,441 participants
2001 (through CSP #458): 2,189 participants (Deployed n = 1,061, Nondeployed n = 1,128 participants)
2005: 9,970 participants
2012-2013: 14,252 participants

Response Rate

1995: 70%
2001 (through CSP #458): Deployed: 53.1%, Nondeployed: 39.1%
2005: 34%
2012-2013: 50%

Recruitment Method

The Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) provided military and demographic information for 693,826 Veterans deployed to the Gulf War and 800,680 Veterans who were on duty between September 1990 and May 1991 but not deployed to the Gulf.  A stratified random sample of 15,000 deployed Gulf War Veterans and 15,000 Gulf Era Veterans served as the permanent panel. For each phase, a questionnaire package was mailed to all living panel members, inviting them to complete the survey and followed up with reminder postcards. Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) calls were made to Veterans who had not responded.



Data Collected

Data collected on sociodemographic information and a range of health topics such as:

  • Chronic medical conditions (e.g., neurological conditions, fibromyalgia, arthralgias, cancer, autoimmune conditions, respiratory conditions, and gastrointestinal disorders)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness and unexplained multi-symptom illness
  • Mental health (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression)
  • Health behaviors (e.g., alcohol and tobacco use, exercise)
  • General health
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Functional health
  • Women’s health
  • Complementary and alternative medicine use
  • VA health care utilization and satisfaction

Data Collection Method

Structured questionnaire completed by mail, Computer Aided Technology (CATI), or online

2001 (CSP #458): Medical, neurologic, gynecologic, and psychiatric examinations were performed by medical personnel, followed by laboratory, pulmonary function, nerve conduction, and neuropsychological tests. Symptom histories were obtained using structured interviews.

Funding Source

Department of Veterans Affairs


John Crayton, MD
Seth Eisen, MD
Han Kang, ScD
Frances Murphy, MD, MPH 



Selected Publications 

1995 Baseline Survey:
Kang HK, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Magee CA, Murphy FM. Physical and Mental Health Status of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans: Results From a Large Population-Based Epidemiological Study. J Occup Environ Med. 2000 May;42(5):491-501.

Kang HK, Natelson BH, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Murphy FM. Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness among Gulf War Veterans: A population based survey of 30,000 Veterans. Am J Epidemiol 2003;157:141–148.
2001 Survey (CSP #458):
Eisen SA, Kang HK, Murphy FM, Blanchard MS, Reda DJ, Henderson WG, Toomey R, Jackson LW, Alpern R, Parks BJ, Kilmas N, Hall C, Pak HS, Hunter J, Karlinsky J, Battistone MJ, Lyons MJ, and the Gulf War Study Participating Investigators. Gulf War Veterans’ Health: Medical Evaluation of a U.S. Cohort. Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jun 7;142(11):881-90. PMID: 15941694.

Toomey R, Alpern R, Vasterling JJ, Baker DG, Reda DJ, Lyons MJ, Henderson WG, Kang HK, Eisen SA, Murphy FM. Neuropsychological functioning of U.S. Gulf War veterans 10 years after the war. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2009 Sep;15(5):717-29. PMID: 19640317.

2005 Survey:
Kang HK, Li B, Mahan CM, Eisen SA, Engel CC. Health of U.S. Veterans of 1991 Gulf War: A follow-up survey in 10 years. J Occup Environ Med 2009;51:401-410.

Li B, Mahan CM, Kang HK, Eisen SA, Engel CC. Longitudinal health study of U.S. 1991 Gulf War Veterans: Changes in health status at 10-year follow-up. Am J Epidemiol 2011.

2012-2013 Survey:
Dursa EK, Barth SK, Schneiderman AI, Bossarte RM. Physical and mental health status of Gulf War and Gulf era Veterans: Results from a large population-based epidemiological study. J Occup Environ Med 2016; 58: 41-46.

Dursa EK, Barth SK, Schneiderman AI, Bossarte RM.  Physical and mental health status of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans: Results from a large population-based epidemiological study. [Reply to letter of Coughlin S]. J Occup Environ Med 2016; 58: e187.

More Information