Objective: Ill-health and early mortality are amongst the most significant ramifications of trauma. Furthermore, trauma alters the subjective perception and experience of the body. The aim of this study is to examine the extent to which deteriorations in perceived health among traumatised individuals are associated with cellular health as manifested in telomere length. Methods: Specifically, 88 former prisoners of war (ex-POWs) evaluated their health (self-rated health; SRH) at 18 (T1), 35 (T2) and 42 (T3) years after the war, and were assessed for telomere length at T3. Health behaviour, BMI, morbidity and PTSD were also examined at T3. Results: The findings demonstrated that SRH was cross-sectionally correlated with telomere length. Furthermore, a significant sequential indirect effect was found, in which worse SRH in T1 was associated with shorter telomere length at T3, through worse SRH at T2 and at T3. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that long-term deteriorations in the subjective evaluations of health are implicated in actual cellular health among individuals exposed to trauma.
- Self-rated health
- war captivity