This is a study of the mortality patterns of Australian Korean War veterans following the Korean War. It was prompted by concerns from the Korean War veteran community that their death rates were higher than the Australian male population, and that this increase was due to their service in Korea.
It is the first mortality study of all Australian military personnel, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force and included a small number of members of approved philanthropic organisations - Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army and Young Men's Christian Association - who served in Korea. It covers deaths of veterans in the period 27 June 1950 to 31 December 2000 following completion of Korean service.
The aims of the Korean War Veterans Mortality Study were to:
- develop a nominal roll of all Australian veterans of the Korean War
- develop a geographic profile of all living Australian veterans of the Korean War
- determine mortality rates of Australian veterans of the Korean War, and
- compare the mortality rates of male Australian veterans of the Korean War with those of Australian males.
A protocol for this study was completed in September 1999. It defined the study aims, methods of data collection and analysis, limitations of the study, reporting, and privacy and confidentiality considerations. The absence of quantitative data on occupational and environmental exposures was acknowledged.
Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) Ethics Committee and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Ethics Committee.
The study was conducted by DVA while the AIHW ascertained the causes of death and compared the death rates of Korean War veterans with the Australian population. An independent Scientific Advisory Committee was established to oversight the scientific aspects of the study and representatives of ex-Service organisations formed a Consultative Committee to represent the interests of Korean War veterans.
Table 1 shows the total numbers of male and female Korean War veterans on the Nominal Roll, categorised by the first organisation in which they served.
- Includes personnel from the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army and Young Men's Christian Association.
- Includes war correspondents and civilian canteen staff aboard HMAS Sydney
Because only 58 females served in the Korean War, it was not feasible to conduct a scientifically reliable cohort study of mortality rates amongst female veterans. Accordingly, mortality rates were derived for male veterans only.
Preliminary material: Abbreviations; Definitions
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Korean war veterans mortality study
1.2 Influences on mortality
1.3 Report structure
Chapter 2 Australia's involvement in Korea
2.1 Korean geography and climate
2.2 Korean war
2.3 Australian involvement
2.4 Definitions: 'allotted for duty' and 'operational service'
2.5 Operational area
2.6 Health and environmental threats
Chapter 3 The nominal roll of Australian veterans of the Korean war
3.1 Sources of data
3.2 Completeness of the nominal roll
3.3 Accuracy of data
3.4 Total number of veterans
Chapter 4 Characteristics of the study cohort
4.1 Birth year distribution of veterans
4.2 Age at first service in Korea
4.3 Nature of service in Korea
4.4 Involvement in other conflicts
Chapter 5 Data sources, methods and limitations
5.1 Sources of data on vital status
5.2 Quality of Korean war nominal roll
5.3 Record linkage between the nominal roll and selected data sources
5.4 Results of the matching process
5.5 Summary and discussion on determination of vital status
5.6 Statistical methods
5.7 Statistical power
5.8 Smoking prevalence
5.9 Statistical software used
Chapter 6 Results
6.1 Overview of analysis
6.2 Deaths from diseases of a priori interest
6.3 Mortality of Korean war veterans
6.4 Mortality by branch of service
6.6 Effect of service in Korea
Chapter 7 Discussion of mortality findings
7.1 Consideration of study design
7.2 Factors influencing mortality
7.3 Discussion of causes of death of a priori interest
7.4 Discussion of specific causes of death
7.5 Possible exposures that could contribute to the elevation in mortality among Korean war veterans
Chapter 8 Summary, conclusions and recommendations
8.1 Summary of findings
Appendix A: Protocol for a retrospective study of mortality of Korean veterans
Appendix B: Review of the literature on the health of Korean veterans
Appendix C: Australian and other United Nations forces in Korea
Appendix D: Tables of results
Appendix E: Location of surviving Korean veterans
Appendix F: Membership of the consultative committee
Appendix G: Membership of the study scientific advisory committee
Appendix H: Project staff