Emotional impact of exposure to terrorism among young-old and old-old Israeli citizens

Avraham Bleich, Marc Gelkopf*, Yuval Melamed, Zahava Solomon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Since September 2000, continuous terrorist attacks have exposed Israeli society to trauma, and the impact of these events on the mental health of the elderly Israeli population remains unclear. The authors sought to assess the prevalence of posttraumatic stress-related symptoms of distress, depression, optimism, self-efficacy, and sense of safety of the young-old and old-old Jewish population after 19 months of intense terrorism in Israel, in order to identify correlates of the psychological sequelae and compare symptoms and coping methods of these populations with those of younger adults. Methods: Authors did a telephone survey using stratified sampling with a national sample of young-old (65-74 years old), old-old (> 74 years old) and a comparison group of younger adults (18-64 years old). Results: No difference was found in the level of exposure, traumatic stress symptoms, including probable PTSD, except for a nonsignificant tendency toward more depersonalization and emotional numbness in the elderly group, a tendency toward more sleeplessness, more re-experiencing of unwanted thoughts, hyperarousal, fewer avoidance symptoms, and less disengagement-coping in the old-old group. Younger adults were found to be significantly more optimistic. Young-old and old-old people used cigarettes/alcohol and tranquilizers more often to cope with the situation, and old-old people who used disengagement-coping felt less helped by it. Conclusions: Young-old and old-old people do not differ significantly from the younger adult population with regard to their response to 19 months of intense and recurrent terrorism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-712
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005


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