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Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center (ERIC)

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Surveys of VET Registry members

Summary of Past Full Registry Data Collection Projects

In 1988, the Registry became available for use by both VA and non-VA investigators. The twin identification process from military records took approximately 3 years from 1983-1986. Several waves of mail and telephone surveys involving Registry members have collected a wealth of health-related information on Registry twins, their adult offspring, and mothers’ of the offspring.

The research initiatives outlined below have attempted to collect information from all twins in the VET Registry. Click on the links to view the PDF form of each survey. For more information regarding any of the data available from the below data collections, please contact the VET Registry toll free at 1-866-774-9647.

Survey of Health

The Survey of Health was the initial questionnaire mailed by the Vietnam-Era Twin Registry (VET Registry) to 7,369 twin pairs identified from military records. The Survey of Health questionnaire contained self-report questions about zygosity, respondent’s likeness to their brother during childhood, general health, specific diagnoses, hospitalization for specific medical conditions, comparison of health to brother’s health, combat exposure, symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cigarette and alcohol consumption, military experiences, marital status, fertility, offspring, education, employment, and income. The questionnaire did not include a measure of self-reported race/ethnicity nor did the instrument include any measures of depression. Click here to see a copy of the survey.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute study

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) study was the second VET Registry-wide survey of VET Registry members.  An effort was made to obtain responses from both members of any twin pair in the VET Registry where at least one brother had participated in the Survey of Health (1987).  The survey included questions on a variety of disorders of interest to the NHLBI such as: cardiovascular and pulmonary risk factors, self-reported heart, pulmonary, and blood disorders, sleep problems, diet and exercise.  This study was also intended to serve as a prelude to a clinical examination protocol studying cardiovascular disease on a selected subset of twins contained in the VET Registry.  The clinical exam did not take place. Click here to see a copy of the survey.

Harvard Drug Study

The Harvard Drug Study was the third major survey of the Vietnam-Era Twin Registry (VETR) members.  Trained interviewers administered the Diagnostic Interview Schedule Version 3 Revised (DIS-III-R) to 8,169 twins via telephone in order to assess a variety of psychiatric disorders.  The aim of this study was to gauge the relative contribution of familial environment, non-familial environment and genetics on the development and course of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence. The survey has been broken into several files, each quite large (10 MB):

Male Health Survey

The Male Health Survey consists of 95 general questions relating to male health and the effects of aging was mailed to VET Registry members.  Questions fell into the following categories:
1. General Health (questions about general body systems),
2. Male Health (urinary and prostate symptoms),
3. Sleep and Work patterns (hours slept, snoring),
4. Smoking and Alcohol use, and
5. Hair Pattern (location and degree of baldness). 
Responses were received from 5361 individuals (1621 complete pairs).

One study was to determine the extent of genetic influence on erectile dysfunction (ED) in a sample of middle-aged men.   Two questions related to ED were asked:  difficulty in achieving and difficulty in maintaining an erection in the past month.  Data were also collected regarding known risk factors for development of ED.  This study did demonstrate an ED-specific genetic component, even when adjusted for risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, body shape (obesity), age, smoking, alcohol intake and coronary heart disease. Click here to see a copy of the survey.