Gulf War illnesses and other medically unexplained
physical symptoms in the US.
Zavestoski S, Brown P, McCormick S, Mayer B, D'Ottavi M, Lucove JC.
Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton
Street, 94117-1080, San Francisco, CA, USA
We examine Gulf War illnesses-which include the fatigue, joint pain,
dermatitis, headaches, memory loss, blurred vision, diarrhea, and
other symptoms reported by Gulf War veterans-in relation to other
medically unexplained physical symptoms such as multiple chemical
sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Our intent is
to examine the diagnosis negotiations involved in these mysterious
diseases, by showing the different forms of legitimacy involved in
such interactions. Factors involved in diagnostic legitimacy are:
diagnostic legitimacy in the medical community, lay acceptance of the
diagnosis, uncertainty in looking for causes, and social mobilization.
We conclude by noting that research may not be able to find any cause
for these diseases/conditions; hence, it may be necessary to embrace
medical uncertainty, and also to accept patient experience in order to
facilitate diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process. Such a change
can alter patients' expectations and taken-for-granted assumptions
about medicine, and perhaps in turn reduce the frequency with which
dissatisfied individuals form illness groups that mobilize to
challenge what they see as an unresponsive medical system.
PMID: 14572929 [PubMed - in process]