Intergenerational Perceptions of Mass Trauma’s Impact on Physical Health and Well-Being

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Objective: This study investigated the perceived intergenerational impact of the 1932–1933 forced starvation-genocide of Ukrainians and reports the perceived impact of the mass trauma on physical health and well-being across three generations. Method: Interviews were conducted with survivors of the 1930s mass trauma and their adult children and grandchildren. In total, 45 interviews were conducted in Ukraine and a qualitative thematic method was used to analyze the interview texts. Results: Two main themes emerged from the qualitative analysis. First, survivors noted adverse physical health outcomes stemming from their experiences with the 1930s mass trauma. Second, mainly descendants of survivors reported that the mass trauma set into motion biological, psychological and social processes, which in turn, have negatively affected physical health across generations. Conclusions: Participants viewed the mass trauma of the 1930s to have affected the physical health of not only survivors, but also their adult children and grandchildren born decades after the traumatic event. Recommendations are made for cultural awareness training for clinicians who treat patients with family histories of ancestral trauma.

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