Occup Environ Med 59:794-799 doi:10.1136/oem.59.12.794
  • Review

Mortality among US and UK veterans of the Persian Gulf War: a review

  1. H K Kang1,
  2. T A Bullman1,
  3. G J Macfarlane2,
  4. G C Gray3
  1. 1The Environmental Epidemiology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA
  2. 2School of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  3. 3College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr H K Kang, Environmental Epidemiology Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 1120 20th Street, NW Suite 950, Washington, DC, 20036, USA;
  • Accepted 14 May 2002


Mortality data on Gulf War veterans was reviewed as a means of evaluating the long term consequences of the war. Studies were located from searches of Medline, Proceedings of the Conference on Federally Sponsored Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Research, Proceedings of the American Public Health Association Annual Meetings, Annual Reports to Congress, and personal contacts with knowledgeable investigators. Data on study design, methods, and results were obtained from published studies of both US and UK veterans who served in the Persian Gulf. The methodology and results of studies are summarised and evaluated. Additional research recommendations based on reviewed studies are presented. It is concluded that in both US and UK studies, mortality from external causes was higher, while mortality from all illnesses was lower among Gulf War veterans in comparison to those of non-Gulf War veterans. Increased mortality from external causes is consistent with patterns of postwar mortality observed in veterans of previous wars. Further follow up of Gulf War veterans and their controls is warranted for evaluating the mortality risk from diseases with longer latency periods.


  • Support: The Medical Research Service, Office of Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs