Which category of lifetime adversity accelerates physical impairment among Israeli older adults?

Amit Shrira*, Yuval Palgi, Ehud Bodner, Dov Shmotkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Preliminary evidence suggests that exposure to lifetime cumulative adversity is related to faster increase in physical impairment with time, especially when depressive symptoms are present. Nevertheless, it is still unclear whether different adversity categories accelerate impairment. The current study capitalized on the unique accounts of adversity available in the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE-Israel) by focusing on different categories of adversity, while accounting for their interaction with depressive symptoms in predicting trajectories of physical impairment (i.e., chronic medical conditions and disability). Data of 1665 participants (mean age = 63.08, SD = 10.04 at Wave 1) were drawn from the first three waves of SHARE-Israel. Respondents reported exposure to bereavement (e.g., experiencing the death of a spouse), war and terrorism (e.g., being wounded in terrorist attack), and victimization (e.g., being a victim of abuse or assault). Other measures assessed depressive symptoms, chronic medical conditions, and disability. Growth-curve models showed that bereavement and exposure to war and terrorism were related to specific measures of physical impairment. Moreover, three-way interactions showed that clinical level of depressive symptoms coupled with exposure to either bereavement or war and terrorism predicted a faster increase in chronic medical conditions and disability. The findings offer a differentiated outlook on the effect of adversity on age-related increase in physical impairment. Practitioners should consider that older adults previously exposed to bereavement, war and terrorism are at risk for a hastened physical decline, especially when they suffer from depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-334
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


FundersFunder number
Ministry of Senior CitizensR01-AG031729
National Institutes of Health
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme676536
Seventh Framework Programme
European Commission
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development
National Insurance Institute of Israel
Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan


    • Chronic medical conditions
    • Depressive symptoms
    • Disability
    • Growth-curve models
    • Lifetime adversity
    • SHARE-Israel


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