The long-term effects of early-life trauma on psychological, physical and physiological health among the elderly: the study of Holocaust survivors

Lee Greenblatt Kimron, Ibrahim Marai, Abraham Lorber, Miri Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: To study post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth and heart rate variability among elderly Holocaust survivors and a matched comparison group and the mediational effect of post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth on the association between Holocaust experience and heart rate variability. Method: 159 Holocaust survivors and 87 matched participants without Holocaust experience answered post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth questionnaires. Heart rate variability time and frequency parameters were measured for a subsample of N = 133. Results: Holocaust survivors reported higher levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth. Most heart rate variability measures were similar in the two groups, except for better heart rate variability measured by the ratio of low frequency/high frequency among Holocaust survivors. Structural equation modeling showed that belonging to the Holocaust survivor group was associated with higher post-traumatic stress symptoms and higher post-traumatic growth, as well as better heart rate variability scores (standard deviation of normal to normal R-R intervals, high frequency and the ratio of low frequency/high frequency) through the mediation of post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth. Conclusions: The study emphasized the duality of the association between post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth and their integrated effect on heart rate variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1340-1349
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume23
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Holocaust survivors
  • early-life trauma
  • heart rate variability
  • post-traumatic growth
  • post-traumatic symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Gerontology
  • Psychiatric Mental Health

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