Prisoner of War Experience: Effects on Wives

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The aim of this study was to compare the wives of Australian soldiers who had been imprisoned during World War II (POWs) with a control group of non-POWs' wives and also to compare the POWs and non-POWs themselves in respect to several psychological and family life characteristics on which differences might be expected to arise from the long-term effects of imprisonment. A random sample of 145 of these veterans and their wives completed several self-administered mood and family life scales, an inventory of somatic symptoms, questions about the impact of the war on the veteran in the postwar decades, and several social background questions. The POWs themselves were more depressed and reported more somatic symptoms and a greater postwar impact of the war than the non-POWs. However, these differences were not accompanied by concomitant differences among their wives. There was some evidence of an influence of the POW's mood on his wife's mood in significant correlations between husbands' and wives' depression and anxiety scale scores in POW couples alone. Otherwise, there was very little indication that the POW experience had any long-term effect on the marriage relationship as measured by the variables included in this study.

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