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Health conditions in a cohort of New Zealand Vietnam veterans: hospital admissions between 1988 and 2009

09 Dec 2015


To inform the provision of support to veterans by analysing hospital discharge data, thereby identifying which conditions show an excess risk, require specific management strategies and deserve further investigation.


Tertiary level care, including all public and private New Zealand hospitals.


All New Zealand Vietnam veterans with service between 1964 and 1972.

Primary outcome measures

Standardised hospitalisation ratios (SHRs) were calculated based on the number of first observed hospital admissions for a condition, those expected being based on New Zealand national hospitalisation rates.


The SHR for all causes of hospitalisation was 1.18, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.21, with modest increases for the major common causes, cardio and cerebrovascular disease. Admission rates for chronic renal failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were highest in the 2006–2009 time period. The highest statistically significant hospitalisation risk was for alcohol-related mental disorder, SHR 1.91, 99% CI 1.39 to 2.43.


Chronic renal failure has limited attribution to veteran service but along with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has the potential to have high costs both to the individual and the health system. We suggest that routine surveillance of veterans by way of a ‘flag’ in national and primary care databases would facilitate the recognition of service-related conditions and the appropriate provision of healthcare.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open