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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans report symptoms consistent with chronic multisymptom illness one year after deployment.

McAndrew LM, Helmer DA, Phillips LA, Chandler HK, Ray K, Quigley KS. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans report symptoms consistent with chronic multisymptom illness one year after deployment. Journal of rehabilitation research and development. 2016 Feb 1; 53(1):59-70.

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Many Veterans returning from service in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) experience chronic pain. What is not known is whether for some OIF/OEF Veterans this pain is part of a larger condition of diffuse multisystem symptoms consistent with chronic multisymptom illness (CMI). We use data from a prospective longitudinal study of OIF/OEF Veterans to determine the frequency of CMI. We found that 1 yr after deployment, 49.5% of OIF/OEF Veterans met criteria for mild to moderate CMI and 10.8% met criteria for severe CMI. Over 90% of Veterans with chronic pain met criteria for CMI. CMI was not completely accounted for either by posttraumatic stress disorder or by predeployment levels of physical symptoms. Veterans with symptoms consistent with CMI reported significantly worse physical health function than Veterans who did not report symptoms consistent with CMI. This study suggests that the presence of CMI should be considered in the evaluation of OIF/OEF Veterans. Further, it suggests the pain management for these Veterans may need to be tailored to take CMI into consideration.

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