Family Involvement and Secondary Traumatization in Holocaust Survivor Families: An Actor–Partner Interdependence Model

Lee Greenblatt-Kimron, Amit Shrira, Tom Rubinstein, Yuval Palgi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to examine the interpersonal relationships between family involvement (i.e., emotional and behavioral strategies that underscore family members' well-being and familial legacy) and secondary traumatization (i.e., symptoms of distress resulting from close contact with a traumatized individual) in Holocaust survivors and comparison families. We assessed levels of family involvement and secondary traumatization in children and grandchildren of survivors (Holocaust G2 and G3) and comparisons. Next, we examined whether there are within and between generation relationships between family involvement and secondary traumatization (i.e., G2's family involvement affects G3's secondary traumatization and vice versa).

METHOD: The sample included 92 Holocaust G2-G3 dyads and 67 equivalent comparison dyads (comparison G2 and G3 of European origin, whose parents or grandparents were not in Nazi/pro-Nazi dominated countries). Participants answered questionaries on background characteristics, family involvement, and secondary traumatization.

RESULTS: Secondary traumatization was significantly higher among Holocaust G2 and G3 than comparison G2 and G3, respectively. Family involvement was significantly higher among Holocaust G2 than comparison G2. An Actor-Partner Interdependence model showed that participants who reported greater family involvement reported higher secondary traumatization in all families (i.e., an actor effect). A significant partner effect was found only in Holocaust families. In these families, greater family involvement in one generation was related to higher secondary traumatization in the other generation.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest a unique interpersonal mechanism of intergenerational transmission of trauma in Holocaust families that appears to affect both generations, which may help design multigenerational interventions with survivor families, focusing on family involvement. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S384-S392
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Early online date16 Jun 2022
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association


  • Holocaust families
  • family involvement
  • interpersonal effects
  • secondary traumatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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