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Traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder among elderly Germans: results of a representative population-based survey


Glaesmer, H; Gunzelmann, T; Braehler, E; Forstmeier, Simon; Maercker, Andreas (2010). Traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder among elderly Germans: results of a representative population-based survey. International Psychogeriatrics, 22(04):661-670.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Only a few population-based studies on the epidemiology of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs) are available to date. Most of the existing studies are from the U.S.A. Against the background of World War II, the extent and long-term effects of war-related traumatic experiences in the German elderly population are of special interest. Nevertheless, population-based data on this topic are lacking to date.

METHODS: This study examines the occurrence of traumatic experiences and the prevalence rates of PTSD according to DSM-IV and of partial PTSD in a randomly selected sample of the German general population aged 60 years and over (N = 814) using self-rating instruments.

RESULTS: PTSD is apparent in 3.4%; when partial post-traumatic stress syndromes are included, a total of 7.2% of the aged population are involved. The most common individual symptoms resulting from war-induced trauma are avoidance of thoughts and feelings, sleep disturbances, distressing dreams and intrusive thoughts. The most frequently mentioned traumatic experiences of the generation examined in this study were war-related trauma experienced as children or in early adulthood during World War II. As a person's age increases, so does the prevalence of war-related traumatic experiences. There are some gender differences in traumatic experiences, but not in post-traumatic symptoms.

CONCLUSION: The results emphasize the importance of war-related traumatic experiences from World War II in the German elderly population and their impact on the prevalence of PTSD more than 60 years later.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Only a few population-based studies on the epidemiology of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs) are available to date. Most of the existing studies are from the U.S.A. Against the background of World War II, the extent and long-term effects of war-related traumatic experiences in the German elderly population are of special interest. Nevertheless, population-based data on this topic are lacking to date.

METHODS: This study examines the occurrence of traumatic experiences and the prevalence rates of PTSD according to DSM-IV and of partial PTSD in a randomly selected sample of the German general population aged 60 years and over (N = 814) using self-rating instruments.

RESULTS: PTSD is apparent in 3.4%; when partial post-traumatic stress syndromes are included, a total of 7.2% of the aged population are involved. The most common individual symptoms resulting from war-induced trauma are avoidance of thoughts and feelings, sleep disturbances, distressing dreams and intrusive thoughts. The most frequently mentioned traumatic experiences of the generation examined in this study were war-related trauma experienced as children or in early adulthood during World War II. As a person's age increases, so does the prevalence of war-related traumatic experiences. There are some gender differences in traumatic experiences, but not in post-traumatic symptoms.

CONCLUSION: The results emphasize the importance of war-related traumatic experiences from World War II in the German elderly population and their impact on the prevalence of PTSD more than 60 years later.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:2010
Deposited On:08 Oct 2010 12:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:15
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1041-6102
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S104161021000027X
PubMed ID:20353625

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