Recurrent trauma: Holocaust survivors cope with aging and cancer

Shira Hantman, Zahava Solomon
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2007, 42 (5): 396-402

BACKGROUND: The current study aims to determine whether elderly Holocaust survivors are affected differently from non-survivors by the adversity of aging and cancer.

METHOD: Holocaust survivors and non-survivors suffering from cancer, were assessed tapping PTSD, psychiatric symptomatology, psychosocial adjustment to illness and coping with the aftermath of the Holocaust.

RESULTS: Findings indicate a significant difference between survivors and non-survivors in post-traumatic symptoms and their intensity, survivors endorsing significantly more PTSD symptoms. Survivors were classified into 3 sub-groups, namely "Victims," "Fighters," and "Those who made it". "Victims" reported the highest percentage of persons who met PTSD, psychiatric symptomatology and difficulty coping with the problems of old age.

CONCLUSIONS: The diversity of responses points to heterogeneity of long-term adaptation and adjustment among Holocaust survivors and similar response to subsequent adversity.


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