Combat stress reactions, posttraumatic stress disorder, cumulative life stress, and physical health among Israeli veterans twenty years after exposure to combat

Yael Benyamini*, Zahava Solomon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined the association of initial combat stress reaction (CSR), chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cumulative life stress on physical health 20 years after the 1982 war with Lebanon, in a sample of 504 Israeli veterans of the war. Two groups were assessed: male veterans who fought and suffered from CSR and a matched group of male veterans from the same units who did not exhibit such reactions. Twenty years following the war, participants were asked to rate their general physical health status, report health complaints and risk behaviors, and were screened for PTSD. CSR and, to a greater extent, PTSD, were found to be associated with general self-rated health, chronic diseases and physical symptoms, and greater engagement in risk behaviors. CSR and PTSD were also related to greater cumulative life stress since the war. Both negative and positive life events were independently related to most of the physical health measures but did not account for the associations of CSR and PTSD with poorer health. Tests of the interactions between CSR, PTSD and life stress in their association with physical health and risk behaviors showed that PTSD suppressed the effects of additional life stress (negative life events had a weaker effect on health among participants with PTSD).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1267-1277
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume61
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2005

Keywords

  • Combat stress reaction
  • Cumulative life stress
  • Israel
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Veterans

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