Secondary traumatization among former prisoners of wars' adult children: The mediating role of parental bonding

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Background and Objectives: The aversive impact of combat and parents' combat-induced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on young children has been examined in a few studies. However, the long-term toll of war captivity on secondary traumatization (ST) and the parental bonding of adult children remain unknown. This study examined ST symptoms and parental bonding among adult children of former prisoners of war (ex-POWs' children) that were compared to adult children of comparable veterans (controls' children). Furthermore, we examined the mediating role of parental bonding and exposure to stress in the association between group and ST symptoms. Design: A correlative, cross-sectional study. Methods: Participants were Israeli ex-POWs' children (N = 98) and controls' children (N = 90), whose fathers fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. All participants completed a battery of self-reported questionnaires. Results: Ex-POWs' children reported a higher number of ST symptoms and lower levels of fathers' care, as compared to controls' children. Importantly, exposure to stress stemming from fathers' behaviors and fathers' care was found to mediate the association between research group and ST. Conclusions: Forty years after the war ended, the experience of living with ex-POWs is associated with ex-POWs' children psychological outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-178
Number of pages17
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2015


  • ex-POWs' adult children
  • parental bonding
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • prisoners of war
  • secondary traumatization


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