Do past and prospective adversities intersect? Distinct effects of cumulative adversity and the hostile-world scenario on functioning at later life

Rinat Lifshitz, Kfir Ifrah, Noam Markovitz, Dov Shmotkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Studies have barely juxtaposed the effect of cumulative adversity over one’s past life on health in later life with the related effect of one’s actual or anticipated adversities. The latter adversities, anchored in the individual’s present and future, are referred to by the concept of the hostile-world scenario (HWS). The aim of the current study was to examine the distinct effects of cumulative adversity and the HWS on changes in health over time using various markers of physical and mental health. Method: The study examined a subsample of 1,081 three-wave survivors drawn from SHARE-Israel using a cumulative adversity measure at Wave 1, a HWS measure at Wave 3, and six health markers at the three waves (with four-year intervals). Results: Cumulative adversity was associated with health markers at Wave 1, but it did not predict almost any short or long-term change in the health markers. The HWS showed unique associations with all concurrent health markers as well as with their changes over the last 8 years. In one emerging interaction, the advantage of lower HWS to better cognitive functioning decreased as cumulative trauma increased. Conclusion: These findings demonstrate the dialectical experience of potential trauma survivors, combining both vulnerability and resilience in the face of past adversity and prospective challenges. It seems that the HWS has a significantly adaptive role in identifying one’s functional status at present as well as functional changes that have occurred over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1116-1125
Number of pages10
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Cumulative adversity
  • SHARE-Israel
  • aging
  • hostile-world scenario
  • physical and mental health

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