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J Affect Disord. 2007 Nov;103(1-3):121-9. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Wartime stressors and mental health symptoms as predictors of late-life mortality in World War II survivors.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medical Psychology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. i.bramsen@tiscali.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pathways through which wartime stress leads to excess mortality have not been examined so far. The current study examines wartime stress in relation to late-life mortality among 1448 World War II survivors, and potential mediating effects of mental health symptoms that were assessed in 1992.

METHODS:

In 1992, a community survey was held. In 2002, vital status was checked.

RESULTS:

The highest hazard rates of mortality were found among military veterans and war survivors who had been seriously wounded. Posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and, particularly, depression were associated with a higher hazard rate. Depression, anxiety, and somatic complaints appeared to act as mediators between the wartime stressor 'permanent disability or illness' and survival time.

LIMITATIONS:

The results may not be generalizable to all World War II survivors since the sample was restricted to those who survived until 1992. In addition, there was a considerable level of non-response, and the study used self-report data on wartime exposure and psychological symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS:

Exposure to wartime stress as well as mental health symptoms in the long-term aftermath of war and violence are significant predictors of late-life mortality. Wounded survivors and those with a permanent disability or illness are particularly vulnerable.

PMID:
17291593
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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