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Psychiatry Res. 2019 Jan;271:265-271. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.11.060. Epub 2018 Nov 26.

Parental PTSD, health behaviors and successful aging among offspring of Holocaust survivors.

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The Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 5290002, Israel. Electronic address:


Unhealthy behaviors and physical morbidity are more common among trauma survivors, especially those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study looked at the underexplored relationships between parental PTSD, unhealthy behaviors and aging of trauma survivors' offspring. Dyads of parents (mean age = 82.42) and offspring (mean age = 55.48) reported PTSD symptoms, health behaviors and completed indices of successful aging. Dyads were divided into three groups: Holocaust survivors (HS) with probable PTSD (n = 28 dyads), HS without PTSD (n = 86 dyads) and comparison parents without PTSD (n = 73 dyads). Relative to the other groups, HS parents with probable PTSD and their offspring reported more unhealthy behaviors. Serial mediation models showed that the effect of parental PTSD on offspring successful aging was mediated by both parental and offspring unhealthy behaviors. Findings remained significant after controlling for background characteristics and offspring PTSD. This study provides preliminary evidence that PTSD is related to unhealthy behaviors across generations in HS families. Possible mechanisms for such intergenerational effect and its clinical implication are discussed.


Health behaviors; Holocaust survivors; Intergenerational transmission; PTSD; Successful aging

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