Physiological Employment Standards III: physiological challenges and consequences encountered during international military deployments
OBJECTIVE We characterized the prevalence of self-reported environmental exposures, concerns about exposures, and their relationships with somatic symptoms in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) (OIF) veterans seeking treatment at a specialty Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic. Concerns about environmental exposures were expected to lead to more reporting of somatic symptom burden. METHODS We conducted a chart review of 469 OEF/OIF veterans seen at a VA tertiary care clinic. RESULTS OEF/OIF veterans reported a high level of environmental exposures and concerns about environmental exposures. Greater reported environmental exposures (β = 0.13) and environmental exposure concerns (β = 0.39) were associated with a greater somatic symptom burden. Exposure concerns accounted for some of the relationship of exposures on somatic symptom burden (confidence interval, 0.33-0.60). CONCLUSIONS OEF/OIF veterans seeking treatment at a VA clinic reported a high prevalence of environmental exposures and exposure concerns. Both negatively impacted health outcomes.