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Surviving the Holocaust

Posted Oct 02 2008 6:16pm

The January 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society presents that results of a longitudinal study examining the long-term effects of Holocaust exposure during young adulthood. A sample of four hundred fifty-eight subjects of European origin (aged 70 at baseline and 77 at follow-up) were assessed in the study. Information taken included biographical history of concentration camp internment, exposure to Nazi occupation during World War II, or lack thereof (the control subjects), and 7-year mortality data from the National Death Registry. The results indicated that the 93 survivors of the internment camps and the 129 survivors who experienced the occupation first-hand were more likely to differ from the 236 control subjects in terms of being male, being less educated, and having poorer social support. They were also found to report being less physically active, to experience greater difficulty in activities of daily living, to have poorer self-rated health, and to have greater usage of psychiatric medication. No other differences in health parameters or physical illnesses were found. Holocaust survivors and control subjects had similar rates of deterioration in health issues over the follow-up period, and 7-year mortality rates were identical. The authors conclude that while Holocaust survivors displayed significant psychosocial and functional impairment, there was no evidence found to support the hypothesis that the delayed effects of the trauma of the Holocaust influence physical health or mortality.

Click here for the abstract.

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