The Vietnam Nurse Health Study


Name: Linda Schwartz

Rank: Maj (ret), USAF

Organization: Yale University

Performance Site: Yale School of Nursing, New Haven, CT

Year Published: 2000

Abstract Status: Final


The purpose of this study was to identify and compare health problems and reproductive outcomes in three groups of women: members of the Armed Forces who were nurses in Vietnam; members of the Armed Forces who served as nurses during the war but not in Vietnam; and women who never served in the military, but were nurses during the Vietnam War. This was a cross-sectional, retrospective cohort, epidemiological study of women who served in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange. The sample included 100 veteran nurses who served in Vietnam, 62 nurse veterans who did not serve in Vietnam, and 22 civilian nurses.A structured telephone interview was used to assess health problems and reproductive health outcomes with questions from the 1985 National Vietnam Veteran Readjustment Study. Questions on pregnancy, prenatal care, and reproductive outcomes were from the 1994 VA-sponsored Women Vietnam Veteran Reproductive Outcome Study. The veteran subject cohorts came from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Civilian subjects were recruited by asking veteran subjects to suggest civilian nursing peers. Responses were entered directly into the study database received by the interviewers. Data were analyzed using Chi-square tests, and in instances where there was a low expected cell count, Fishers Exact Test. Mantel-Haenszel Chi-square was also reported. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange had significant adverse affects, including: poorer health, more hypertension, allergy problems, insomnia, gastric reflux/ulcers, and motor dysfunction.This study offers insight into life choices, health habits, and health problems and how they differ in these three groups. Additionally, the design offers an approach to assessing the effects of exposures associated with military duty and modern warfare. Findings will assist with health screening programs, patient education activities, and policy decisions for the VA, DoD, and Public Health agencies.


Final report is available on NTRL: