Gulf War Illnesses:

Federal Research Strategy Needs Reexamination

T-NSIAD-98-104: Published: Feb 24, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1998.

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GAO discussed its evaluation of the federal strategy to research Gulf War illnesses.

GAO noted that: (1) the government was not proactive in researching Gulf War illnesses; (2) the government's early research emphasized stress as a cause for Gulf War veterans' illnesses and gave other hypotheses, such as multiple chemical sensitivity, little attention; (3) in contrast, the private sector pursued research on the health effects of low-level exposures to certain chemical warfare agents or industrial chemical compounds; (4) government research used an epidemiological approach, but little research on treatment was funded; and (5) most of the ongoing epidemiological research focusing on the prevalence or causes of Gulf War-related illnesses will not provide conclusive answers, particularly in identifying risk factors or potential causes due to formidable methodological and data problems.

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