The impact of combat deployment on asthma diagnosis and severity

Sally P. Delvecchio, Jacob F. Collen*, Lisa L. Zacher, Michael J. Morris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Environmental exposures during military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan may lead to higher rates of respiratory complaints and diagnoses. This study investigates whether there is a relationship between rates of asthma diagnosis and severity associated with military deployment. Methods: Retrospective review of active duty Army personnel underwent fitness for duty evaluation (Medical Evaluation Board) for asthma. The electronic medical record was reviewed for onset of diagnosis (pre-or post-deployment), disease severity, screening spirometry, bronchodilator response and bronchoprovocation testing. We compared patients with and without a history of combat deployment to Operations Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom. Results: Four hundred consecutive Army personnel with a clinical diagnosis of asthma were evaluated. Equal numbers of patients had deployed (48.5%) versus never deployed (51.5%). Of those who deployed, 98 (24.5%) were diagnosed post-deployment. The diagnosis of asthma was objectively confirmed in 74.8% of patients by obstructive screening spirometry, bronchodilator response, and/or methacholine challenge testing. There were no significant differences in spirometry between deployers and non-deployers or based on pre-and post-deployment diagnosis. Similarly, asthma severity classification did not differ between deployed and non-deployed service members, or by pre-and post-deployment diagnosis status. Conclusions: Among active duty military personnel with career limiting asthma, there is no significant relationship between rates of diagnosis or severity based on history of deployment to Southwest Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-369
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Deployment
  • Military personnel
  • Pulmonary function testing


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