Secondary posttraumatic stress symptom trajectories and perceived health among spouses of war veterans: a 12-year longitudinal study

Gadi Zerach, Danny Horesh, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: : War-related trauma may indirectly affect veterans’ spouses both in terms of secondary posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and negative perceived health. The present study aimed to examine trajectories of secondary PTSS over a twelve-year period and its association with various measures of subjectively perceived health, among spouses of war veterans. Methods: : Spouses of war veterans (n = 155) were assessed prospectively 30 (T1, 2003), 37 (T2, 2010), and 42 (T3, 2015) years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Participants completed self-report questionnaires of PTSS (PTSD inventory) in all three measurement waves, while perceived health measures (Short-Form Health Survey-SF-36) were assessed only at T3. Results: : Most spouses were classified to the ‘resilient’ trajectory with low and stable secondary PTSS over time, followed by recovered, chronic, and delayed onset PTSS trajectories. Importantly, spouses in the ‘chronic’ and ‘delayed’ secondary PTSS trajectories reported a higher severity of general negative subjective health perceptions and health-related social malfunctioning. Conclusion: : Veterans’ spouses who were grouped in the ‘chronic’ and ‘delayed’ PTSS trajectories are to be considered as at-risk populations for both PTSS and negative perceived health perceptions. Mental health professionals as well as family physicians should be aware of the ongoing nature of secondary PTSS which might negatively affect veterans’ spouses medical conditions and ability to cope with the aging process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-691
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Secondary PTSD
  • perceived health
  • self-rated health
  • veterans

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