The longitudinal associations between attitudes to aging and attachment insecurities among combat veterans.

Sharon Avidor, Yael Lahav, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

For combat veterans, the trauma of war can have lasting effects, that may later extend to attitudes toward one’s own aging (ATOA). The present study sought to examine whether attachment insecurities may help to predict ATOA in later life, while also exploring the moderating role of combat exposure concerning the effects of attachment insecurities on subsequent ATOA. A cohort of 171 veterans of the Israeli 1973 Yom Kippur War (mean age = 68.4, SD = 5.1) were interviewed in 1991 (Time 1; T1) and again in 2018 (Time 2; T2). The present study examined the moderating role of combat exposure, within the associations between T1 attachment insecurities and T2 ATOA. A regression analysis revealed that T1 attachment insecurities, T2 health problems, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms predicted more negative T2 ATOA. A significant interaction was found between combat exposure and attachment avoidance, suggesting that the effect of attachment avoidance on ATOA was only significant among participants with high levels of combat exposure. The present findings point to the importance of attachment insecurities for ATOA among veterans, and to the role of combat exposure in moderating these associations. Results indicate possible avenues of intervention and policy for those most vulnerable to negative ATOA. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) <strong xmlns:lang="en">Public Policy Relevance Statement—Insecure forms of attachment to others in one’s life can have far-reaching effects, and are associated with how people respond to traumatic events. The present study suggests that for combat veterans who were exposed to higher levels of combat exposure in the past, an insecure and avoidant pattern of attachment predicted more negative personal attitudes toward one’s aging process. This underscores the importance of incorporating knowledge of attachment patterns for understanding adjustment to trauma throughout the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-170
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume91
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • attachment
  • attitudes toward aging
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • veterans
  • war trauma

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