Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 849–859 | Cite as

The long-term implications of war captivity for mortality and health

  • Zahava Solomon
  • Talya Greene
  • Tsachi Ein-Dor
  • Gadi Zerach
  • Yael Benyamini
  • Avi Ohry


The current study aims to (1) assess the long-term impact of war captivity on mortality and various health aspects and (2) evaluate the potential mediating role of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms. Israeli ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) (N = 154) and a matched control group of combat veterans (N = 161) were assessed on health conditions and self-rated health 18 years post-war (1991: T1). The whole population of ex-POWs, and the T1 sample of controls were then contacted 35 years after the war (2008: T2), and invited to participate in a second wave of measurement (ex-POWs: N = 171; controls: N = 116) Captivity was implicated in premature mortality, more health-related conditions and worse self-rated health. PTSD and depressive symptoms mediated the relationship between war captivity and self-rated health, and partially mediated the relationship between war captivity and health conditions, and these effects were amplified with age. Aging ex-POWs who develop psychiatric symptomatology should be considered a high-risk group entering a high-risk period in the life cycle. It is important to monitor ex-POWs and provide them with appropriate medical and psychological treatment as they age.


Prisoners of war Health Posttraumatic stress disorder Depression Mortality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zahava Solomon
    • 1
  • Talya Greene
    • 1
  • Tsachi Ein-Dor
    • 2
  • Gadi Zerach
    • 3
  • Yael Benyamini
    • 1
  • Avi Ohry
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Bob Shapell School of Social WorkTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.New School of PsychologyInterdisciplinary Center (IDC)HerzilyaIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral SciencesAriel University Center of SamariaArielIsrael
  4. 4.Sackler School of MedicineTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  5. 5.Section of Rehabilitation MedicineReuth Medical CenterTel AvivIsrael

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