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Soc Sci Med. 1992 Jan;34(1):11-5.

Effect of the Holocaust on coping with cancer.

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  • 1Institute of Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.


The aim of the study was to investigate whether surviving stressful life threatening situations influences coping with new stressful life threatening situations. The study group, therefore, was composed of 53 cancer patients (present life threatening situation) who had survived the Holocaust (past life threatening situation). They were compared to 53 cancer patients who had not gone through the Holocaust, matched for sociodemographic and medical background. The Holocaust survivors were unable to mobilize partial denial (had significantly higher scores on the Impact of Events Scale) and their psychological distress was much higher (significantly higher scores on the Brief Symptom Inventory). Their functioning however (as reported along the Psychosocial Adjustment to Physical Illness Scale) did not significantly differ from that of the comparison group. The possible mechanisms for these long term effects of past trauma are discussed as well as the need to regard traumatized persons as 'high risk' psychologically when they have to cope with new life threatening situations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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