What are the long-term effects of exposure to war stress among civilians?
Although most civilians who are exposed to war stress will not develop long-term mental health problems, some will, particularly if they have been exposed to severe stressors. Much research on this topic has been conducted with Holocaust survivors. In a study of 124 Jewish Holocaust survivors, 46% met criteria for PTSD. In a community sample of Israelis age 75 and older, 27% of male and 18% of female Holocaust survivors met criteria for PTSD as compared to 4% percent of males and 8% of females who did not experience the Holocaust (Landau & Litwin, 2000). Thus, it is clear that the prevalence of PTSD will persist throughout their lifetimes. Similarly, data from a long term follow up study of civilians in Holland 50 years after World War II indicates that 4% of the population exposed to a war related event has PTSD, as compared to 1.5% of non-exposed individuals (Bramsen & van der Ploeg, 1999). Is exposure to war stressors in civilians associated with physical health problems? There is a