Lower subjective life expectancy in later life is a risk factor for posttraumatic stress symptoms among trauma survivors.

Sharon Avidor, Yuval Palgi, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: These studies examined whether exposure to traumatic events at different stages of life would predict posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in old age. Furthermore, the regulating role of perceptions that relate to one's future time horizons (subjective life expectancy, SLE) and age (subjective age) were also examined. Method and Results: It was hypothesized that exposure to trauma would predict more PTSS, and that this association would be moderated by SLE and subjective age, so that for those with higher SLE and a younger subjective age, exposure to trauma will have a weaker association with PTSS. Study 1 (N = 294) revealed that among Israeli war veterans (mean age 57), those who experienced the trauma of war captivity in the Yom Kippur War reported higher PTSS than comparable veterans, and that the relationship between captivity and PTSS was weaker for those with a higher SLE. Study 2 (N = 339), which was based on older adults who were currently exposed to ongoing rocket fire in the south of Israel (mean age 65), revealed the same pattern of findings: Exposure to rocket fire predicted more PTSS, but this relationship was weaker among those with a higher SLE. Subjective age did not reveal a moderation effect. Conclusions: These findings suggest that different traumatic experiences, whether belonging to one's past or whether currently ongoing, predict PTSS in later life. Moreover, it appears that subjective time horizons until death, but not subjective age since birth, can buffer against the negative effect of the trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-206
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Subjective age
  • posttraumatic stress symptoms
  • subjective life expectancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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