Family cohesion and posttraumatic intrusion and avoidance among war veterans: A 20-year longitudinal study

Gadi Zerach, Zahava Solomon, Danny Horesh, Tsachi Ein-Dor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: The bi-directional relationships between combat-induced posttraumatic symptoms and family relations are yet to be understood. The present study assesses the longitudinal interrelationship of posttraumatic intrusion and avoidance and family cohesion among 208 Israeli combat veterans from the 1982 Lebanon War. Methods: Two groups of veterans were assessed with self-report questionnaires 1, 3 and 20 years after the war: a combat stress reaction (CSR) group and a matched non-CSR control group. Results: Latent Trajectories Modeling showed that veterans of the CSR group reported higher intrusion and avoidance than non-CSR veterans at all three points of time. With time, there was a decline in these symptoms in both groups, but the decline was more salient among the CSR group. The latter also reported lower levels of family cohesion. Furthermore, an incline in family cohesion levels was found in both groups over the years. Most importantly, Autoregressive Cross-Lagged Modeling among CSR and non-CSR veterans revealed that CSR veterans' posttraumatic symptoms in 1983 predicted lower family cohesion in 1985, and lower family cohesion, in turn, predicted posttraumatic symptoms in 2002. Conclusions: The findings suggest that psychological breakdown on the battlefield is a marker for future family cohesion difficulties. Our results lend further support for the bi-directional mutual effects of posttraumatic symptoms and family cohesion over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • CSR
  • Family cohesion
  • Longitudinal study
  • Posttraumatic symptoms
  • War


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