Prior trauma, PTSD long-term trajectories, and risk for PTSD during the COVID-19 pandemic: A 29-year longitudinal study

Zahava Solomon, Mario Mikulincer, Avi Ohry, Karni Ginzburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study assessed the contributions of prior war captivity trauma, the appraisal of the current COVID-19 danger and its resemblance to the prior trauma, and long-term trajectories of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to risk for PTSD during the COVID-19 pandemic. Capitalizing on a 29-year longitudinal study with four previous assessments, two groups of Israeli veterans – ex-Prisoners-of-War (ex-POWs) of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and comparable combat veterans of the same war – were reassessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous data were collected on their PTSD trajectory 18, 30, 35, and 42 years after the war and exposure to stressful life events after the war. Currently, we collected data on their PTSD during the COVID-19 pandemic and their appraisal of similarities of past trauma with the current pandemic. Previously traumatized ex-POWs were found to be more vulnerable and had significantly higher rates of PTSD and more intense PTSD during the current pandemic than comparable combat veterans. Moreover, veterans in both groups who perceived the current adversity (captivity, combat) as hindering their current coping were more likely to suffer from PTSD than veterans who perceived it as a facilitating or irrelevant experience. In addition, chronic and delayed trajectories of PTSD among ex-POWs increased the risk for PTSD during the pandemic, and lifetime PTSD mediated the effects of war captivity on PTSD during the current pandemic. These findings support the stress resolution perspective indicating that the response to previous trauma – PTSD and its trajectories – increased the risk of PTSD following subsequent exposure to stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume141
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Ex-POWs
  • PTSD
  • PTSD trajectories
  • Veterans

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