Background: Subjective age (SA) is an indicator of aging that has been empirically associated with health impediments and hindered longevity. Studies show that adverse life events may result in relatively older SA, but have not addressed the differential contribution of life events across the lifespan and the course of posttraumatic psychopathology on the SA of aging survivors of extreme trauma. Objective: Filling this gap, the current study explored the differential contribution of (1) adverse experiences in various life-stages and (2) trajectories of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the prediction of SA in a sample of former prisoners-of-war as they enter old age. Method: A cohort of Israeli former prisoners-of-war of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (N = 103) was assessed at four points throughout four decades after the war. A linear hierarchical regression was utilized to assess the contribution of negative life events during childhood, participation in other wars, combat exposure, suffering in captivity, life events since the war and the trajectories of PTSD for predicting SA 42-years post-repatriation. Results: Lifespan adversity explained 50% of the variance in SA, with trajectories of PTSD making the largest contribution, followed by life events since the war. Negative life events in childhood added to the explained variance only when PTSD trajectories were accounted for. Exposure to combat, participation in additional wars and the severity of specific experiences during captivity did not reach significance, though the latter marginally contributed to the explained variance (p= .069). Conclusions: This study demonstrates the importance of considering the prolongation of posttraumatic psychopathology together with life adversities and their differential implications when addressing SA after extreme trauma. The findings suggest that early life adversity may be a latent factor that increases vulnerability to posttraumatic premature aging processes.
|Translated title of the contribution||What doesn’t kill you makes you feel older: lifespan adversity and its association with subjective age among former prisoners of war|
|Journal||European Journal of Psychotraumatology|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2019|
- War trauma
- aging process
- negative life events
- premature senescence