Subjective age and Health in Later Life: the Moderating Role of Posttraumatic Symptoms
S. Avidor1, Y. Benyamini2, Z. Solomon3
1I-Core Research Center for Mass Trauma
2Bob Shapell School of Social Work
3Tel Aviv University
Background: The study examines the impact of trauma on subjective age and on its relationship with health. Methods: Israeli veterans of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (mean age 57), including 111 ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and 167 matched controls were assessed in 2008 for subjective age, war-related PTSD, and health (physical symptoms; somatization; health-risk behaviors; and self-rated health). Findings: Controlling for age, ANCOVAs showed that ex-POWs had higher subjective age than controls (F1, 275 = 24.55, p < .001) and that ex-POWs with PTSD had higher subjective age than controls and ex-POWs without PTSD (F2, 267 = 19.55, p < .001). Linear regression models using standardized variables revealed that PTSD and self-rated health (but not other health measures) predicted subjective age. Significant interactions were found between PTSD and each health measure (Bs ranged between .06, p < .05 and .12, p < .001). Health only predicts subjective age for those reporting high levels of PTSD symptoms. Discussion: PTSD symptoms appear to have implications on the links between health and subjective age in later life, pointing to the long-term effect of captivity and wartime stress on aging.