The prevalence and impact of respiratory symptoms in asthmatics and nonasthmatics during deployment

Stuart A. Roop, Alexander S. Niven, Bryce E. Calvin, Julia Bader, Lisa L. Zacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the prevalence, severity, and impact of respiratory symptoms in asthmatics and nonasthmatics during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Methods: A survey was given to 1,250 active duty soldiers and Department of Defense contractors returning from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom. Subjects were asked about demographics, smoking habits, respiratory symptoms, and impact on job performance before and during deployment. Patients with a history of asthma were asked method of diagnosis, current symptoms, and asthma therapy. Results: A total of 1,193 subjects returned the completed questionnaire (95% response rate). Mean age of respondents was 38 ± 11 years, 83% (n = 977) were male, and 31% (n = 375) were past or present smokers. Sixty-one subjects (5%) reported a previous diagnosis of asthma. Both asthmatics and nonasthmatics had increased respiratory symptoms of wheezing, cough, sputum production, chest pain/tightness, and allergy symptoms during deployment compared to predeployment (p < 0.05 for all). When compared to nonasthmatics, asthmatic subjects reported more wheezing, sputum production, and chest pain/tightness during deployment (p < 0.0001, 0.05, 0.05 respectively), had more difficulty with military duties (p < 0.05), and were more likely to seek medical attention and receive duty restrictions (p < 0.0001). Twenty-six percent (n = 16) of asthmatics reported poor baseline symptom control, and this group had significantly increased symptoms, functional limitations, and health care utilization when compared to asthmatics who were symptom-controlled at baseline. Conclusions: Respiratory symptoms were common among both asthmatics and nonasthmatics during deployment. Differences in symptoms and health care utilization in this group of asthmatics were primarily due to subjects with poor baseline control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1264-1269
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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