European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 46–51 | Cite as

Threat of nuclear war related to increased anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms among adolescents

  • Kari Poikolainen
  • Riitta Kanerva
  • Jouko Lönnqvist


Evidence on the relation between the threat of nuclear war and mental health among adolescents is conflicting. We studied 1493 adolescents in the 10th to 12th grades in school, who completed self-administered questionnaires 1–43 days before the Persian Gulf war broke out. Regression analyses controlled for several potential confounders. After this, the frequency of thinking about nuclear war and the frequency of fearing nuclear war were positively related to perceived present state anxiety among both boys and girls. Among boys, both thinking and fearing were positively related to the psychosomatic symptom score. Among girls, estimates on deaths due to nuclear war associated significantly with psychosomatic symptoms. Long-term effects of the threat of nuclear war on mental health of adolescents merit further study.


Mental Health Potential Confounder Present State Symptom Score Avant 


L'évidence d'une relation entre la menace de guerre nucléaire et la santé mentale des adolescents est sujette à débat. Nous avons étudié 1493 adolescents entre le 10ème et le 12me niveau scolaire qui ont rempli un questionnaire auto-administré de 1 à 43 jours avant le déclenchement de la guerre du golfe persique. Les analyses par régression ont été faites. La fréquence de pensées concernant la guerre nucléaire et la fréquence de peur de cette guerre étaient corrélées positivement à l'état d'angoisse actuel perÇons et les filles. Parmi les garÇons, les pensées et la peur étaient corrélées positivement au score de symptÔmes psychosomatiques. Parmi les filles, l'appréciation des morts dues à la guerre nucléaire était corrélée significativement aux symptÔmes psychosomatiques. Les effects à long terme de la menace de guerre nucléaire sur la santé mentale des adolescents mérite des études ultérieures.


Die Evidenz für eine Beziehung zwischen einem drohenden Nuklearkrieg und psychischem Wohlbefinden bei Jugendlichen wird kontrovers beurteilt. Wir untersuchten 1493 Jugendliche aus den Schulklassen 10–12, die im Zeitraum von 1–43 Tagen vor Ausbruch des Golfkrieges einen Fragebogen ausfüllten. Regressionsanalysen wurden zur Kontrolle mehrerer möglicherweise konfundierender Variabler durchgeführt. Hiernach korrelierte die HÄufigkeit der Gedanken zu einem Nuklearkrieg und der Angst davor positiv mit all der wahrgenommenen Angst bei Jungen und MÄdchen. Bei Jungen waren sowohl die Gedanken an als auch die Furcht vor dem Nuklearkrieg positiv mit psychosomatischen Symptomenscore korreliert. Bei MÄdchen fand sich ein signifikanter Zusammenhang zwischen SchÄtzungen bezüglich der durch einen Nuklearkrieg verursachten TodesfÄlle und psychosomatischen Symptomen. Die Langzeitfolgen eines drohenden Nuklearkrieges auf das psychische Wohlbefinden von Adoleszenten verdienen weitere Forschungsbemühungen.


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Copyright information

© Hogrefe & Huber Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kari Poikolainen
    • 1
  • Riitta Kanerva
    • 1
  • Jouko Lönnqvist
    • 1
  1. 1.National Public Health InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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