Online Program

Understanding the impact of the Gulf War on community perceptions of psychotrauma and cancer risk in Kuwait

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:06 p.m. - 1:24 p.m.

Charles Cange, PhD, MSc, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
I wanted to investigate if the Kuwaiti community believed that there
were psychosocial and chemical factors that influenced the advent of
breast cancer in post-Gulf War Kuwait.

In semi-structured interviews from the Kuwait environmental health
community, I documented participants' explanations of the community’s
diseases.  Using a CBPR approach, the participant also learned
something new about their country’s health or environmental
degradation in relation to the war.
I gathered participants based on a purposive sampling scheme.
Twenty-six Kuwaiti community members participated. The interviews were
transcribed.  Then, I analyzed the transcriptions by identifying the
key emergant themes.

There were three themes that emerged from the data.  First, in
Collective Trauma: Violence Embodied, nearly all Kuwaitis were
affected by an intense dose of trauma. Indeed, PTSD rates have stayed
the same in Kuwaitis since 1991 (~20%).  In the theme A Toxic Legacy:
War and Chemical Exposures, a common refrain I heard was “Cancer’s
running like a flu now; every family has a case of cancer.” Cancer
patients reported much higher rates in the post-conflict period.
Third,Defining Invisible Risks: individuals expressed disdain for the
Ministry of Health’s approach to post-conflict health; they reported
it should actively research links to chemical exposures.

Kuwaitis found physical health concerns were considered more
legitimate than mental health.  My informants described the
administration’s lack of transparency or trustworthiness in handling
their concerns.  They would like a formal investigation into the war's
toxic effects on future generations of Kuwaitis’ health and

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Communication and informatics
Environmental health sciences
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify community perceptions of psychotrauma and cancer risk in Kuwait

Keyword(s): Community-Based Research (CBPR), War

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a two-time Fulbright Scholar, I conducted primary research for 3 years on site in Kuwait. This project was a chapter from my dissertation. I conceived and designed this project, and received IRB approval for it from the University of Washington.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.