Olfactory functioning in Gulf War-era veterans: Relationships to war-zone duty, self-reported hazards exposures, and psychological distress

  • Vasterling J
  • Brailey K
  • Tomlin H
 et al. 
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To explore possible neurotoxic sequelae of Gulf War (GW) participation, olfactory identification performance, neurocognitive functioning, health perceptions, and emotional distress were assessed in 72 veterans deployed to the GW and 33 military personnel activated during the GW but not deployed to the war zone. Findings revealed that war-zone-exposed veterans reported more concerns about health, cognitive functioning, and depression than did their counterparts who did not see war-zone duty. There was no evidence that performances on olfactory or neurocognitive measures were related to war-zone duty or to self-reported exposure to GW toxicants. However, symptoms of emotional distress were positively correlated with self-report of health and cognitive complaints. Results do not provide support for the hypothesis that objectively-measured sensory (i.e., olfactory) or cognitive deficits are related to war-zone participation but do underscore the increasingly demonstrated association between self-reported health concerns and symptoms of emotional distress.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Gulf War
  • Neurocognitive performance
  • Olfactory identification

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  • Jennifer J. Vasterling

  • Kevin Brailey

  • Holly Tomlin

  • Janet Rice

  • Patricia B. Sutker

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