Subjective Age and Health in Later Life: The Role of Posttraumatic Symptoms

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We examined: (a) long-term effects of war-related trauma and captivity on posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), physical health, and subjective age; and (b) the moderation effect of PTSS and health on subjective age among ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and war veterans.


Israeli veterans of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (mean age 57 years), including 111 ex-POWs and 167 matched veterans were assessed for subjective age, war-related PTSS, and health-related measures (physical symptoms, somatization, health-risk behaviors, and self-rated health).


Controlling for age, ex-POWs endorsed higher subjective age than controls, and ex-POWs with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) endorsed higher subjective age than ex-POWs and controls without PTSD. PTSS and health measures besides health-risk behaviors predicted subjective age. Significant interactions were found between PTSS and each health measure, suggesting that health only predicts subjective age for those reporting high PTSS.


PTSS appear to be implicated in the link between health measures and subjective age in later life, pointing to the long-term effect of captivity and war-induced traumatic distress on aging.

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