Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Wm. Drew Gouvier

Abstract

Introduction. Approximately 600 industrial workers reported exposure to sub-lethal levels of sulfur mustard gas and nitrogen mustard gas. A sample of 203 of these workers were administered standardized measures of perceptual, motor, intellectual, academic, attentional, memory, abstract reasoning, and psychological functioning, as well as level of effort during testing. Mean time from exposure to testing was 1.18(SD = .35) years. Males comprised 97.5% of the participants and 79.3% were Caucasian. Mean education was 11.67(SD = 1.73) years and mean age at exposure was 36.74( SD = 10.31) years. Method. Mustard gas exposure severity was defined by the presence of obvious chemical burns and/or multiple blisters and pulmonary problems; endorsing pulmonary problems only with minimal or no blisters or rushing; or not showing evidence of, or not endorsing, having experienced burns, pulmonary problems, or other physical/medical symptoms secondary to mustard gas exposure. Participants were also grouped by the presence or absence of significant gastrointestinal symptoms following exposure to mustard gas. Testing variables were grouped into seven neurocognitive and psychological functional domains and demographic variables and measures of level of effort were investigated for significance as covariates. Results. Significant differences were found in the expected dose-response direction across three levels of mustard gas exposure for the Executive/Abstract domain on multivariate analysis, even when significant demographic variables and level of effort measures were covaried. When partitioned by the presence of significant gastrointestinal symptoms, the domains of Memory and Emotional functioning showed significant differences in the expected dose-response direction. The domains of Emotional and Memory functioning also loaded as significant predictors of group classification within the gastrointestinal symptoms variable. When investigated individually, the majority (58.1%) of individual tests and measures followed the proposed hypotheses. Conclusions. Overall, findings support deleterious effects for mustard gas exposure following a dose-response gradient for measures of complex attention and higher cortical functioning as well as for measures of perception and emotional functioning. As a whole, performance on measures of verbal, academic, and motor functioning was not related to mustard gas exposure level.

ISBN

9780493443546

Pages

93

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