A Retrospective Cohort Study of Military Deployment and Postdeployment Medical Encounters for Respiratory Conditions

Joseph H. Abraham, Angie Eick-Cost, Leslie L. Clark, Zheng Hu, Coleen P. Baird, Robert Defraites, Steven K. Tobler, Erin E. Richards, Jessica M. Sharkey, Robert J. Lipnick, Sharon L. Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Deployed military personnel are exposed to inhalational hazards that may increase their risk of chronic lung conditions. This evaluation assessed associations between Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) deployment and postdeployment medical encounters for respiratory symptoms and medical conditions. This retrospective cohort study was conducted among military personnel who, between January 2005 and June 2007, were deployed to either of two locations with burn pits in Iraq, or to either of two locations without burn pits in Kuwait. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were estimated using two nondeployed reference groups. Rates among personnel deployed to burn pit locations were also compared directly to those among personnel deployed to locations without burn pits. Significantly elevated rates of encounters for respiratory symptoms (IRR = 1.25; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.20–1.30) and asthma (IRR = 1.54; 95% CI: 1.33–1.78) were observed among the formerly deployed personnel relative to U.S.-stationed personnel. Personnel deployed to burn pit locations did not have significantly elevated rates for any of the outcomes relative to personnel deployed to locations without burn pits. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that OIF deployment is associated with subsequent risk of respiratory conditions. Elevated medical encounter rates were not uniquely associated with burn pits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-546
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume179
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2014
Externally publishedYes

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