Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 53 Number 1, 2016
   Pages 59 — 70

Abstract — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans report symptoms consistent with chronic multisymptom illness one year after deployment

Lisa M. McAndrew, PhD;1–3* Drew A. Helmer, MD, MS;1,3 L. Alison Phillips, PhD;4 Helena K. Chandler, PhD;1 Kathleen Ray, PhD;1 Karen S. Quigley, PhD5

1War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ; 2Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, University at Albany, Albany, NY; 3New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ; 4Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; 5Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital, Bedford, MA; and Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Abstract — Many Veterans returning from service in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) experience chronic pain. What is not known is whether for some OIF/OEF Veterans this pain is part of a larger condition of diffuse multisystem symptoms consistent with chronic multisymptom illness (CMI). We use data from a prospective longitudinal study of OIF/OEF Veterans to determine the frequency of CMI. We found that 1 yr after deployment, 49.5% of OIF/OEF Veterans met criteria for mild to moderate CMI and 10.8% met criteria for severe CMI. Over 90% of Veterans with chronic pain met criteria for CMI. CMI was not completely accounted for either by posttraumatic stress disorder or by predeployment levels of physical symptoms. Veterans with symptoms consistent with CMI reported significantly worse physical health function than Veterans who did not report symptoms consistent with CMI. This study suggests that the presence of CMI should be considered in the evaluation of OIF/OEF Veterans. Further, it suggests that the pain management for these Veterans may need to be tailored to take CMI into consideration.

Key words: chronic multisymptom illness, chronic pain, combat deployment, mental health function, Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom, pain management, Persian Gulf war, physical health function, PTSD, Veterans.


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This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
McAndrew LM, Helmer DA, Phillips LA, Chandler HK, Ray K, Quigley KS. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans report symptoms consistent with chronic multisymptom illness one year after deployment. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016;53(1): 59–70.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2014.10.0255
ORCID/ResearcherID: L. Alison Phillips, PhD: 0000-0003-1126-1559; Karen S. Quigley, PhD: 0000-0001-8844-990X/B-9003-2013
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