CSP 595 Introduction - Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center (ERIC)
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CSP 595 Introduction

Service and Health during the Iraq and Afghanistan Era Pilot Study Overview

The study is a 2-phase, cross-sectional study consisting of a survey and clinical examination among a representative sample of Veterans who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan Era. Phase 1 collects self-reported health and military service information from a national sample through a mail survey or telephone interview. Phase 2 consists of in-person data collection procedures, including more extensive health, military service, and exposure questionnaires and pulmonary function testing, using the VA Boston Healthcare System as a pilot study site.

The pilot study will provide key information to move forward with planning the full study. The primary aims are:

  1. to determine the optimal methods for recruitment of participants;
  2. to assess the participation rates and demographic, health-related, and military service-related factors influencing participation; and
  3. to demonstrate the proposed individual exposure reconstruction techniques are feasible.

As of December 31, 2015, recruitment efforts for the pilot study have been completed. Some highlights of the study are outlined below:

Certificate of Confidentiality – The pilot study was granted a Certificate of Confidentiality from the National Institutes of Health to help protect the privacy of research participants. A Certificate allows researchers to refuse to disclose identifying information about participants in response to legal demands, such as a court subpoena. The Certificate cannot be used to resist a demand for information from personnel of the United States Government that is used for auditing or evaluation of federally funded projects or to withhold information when the disclosure is requested in writing by the research participant. There are circumstances where information about participants may be voluntarily disclosed by researchers, for example, disclosures to prevent serious harm to the participant or others or to comply with reporting requirements for communicable diseases. For more information, see the National Institutes of Health website.

Focus Groups – Focus groups were conducted in 5 cities (Seattle, WA; Houston, TX; Long Beach, CA; Minneapolis, MN; and Atlanta, GA) to gather information about Veterans’ perspectives and motivations for participating in research. A total of 89 Veterans shared their thoughts and suggestions on how to design the future study to make it most appealing to Veterans.

Pilot Participation – A total of 296 Veterans completed phase 1 of the pilot study through recruitment efforts at the Seattle and Boston sites. Below is a snapshot of the characteristics of participants who completed the mail survey or telephone interview:

  • Average age: 38.8 years
  • 85% male; 15% female
  • 62% deployed; 38% non-deployed
  • 40% of participants who completed phase 1 at the Boston site also completed phase 2 in-person procedures