The significance of experiences of war and migration in older age: long-term consequences in child survivors from the Dutch East Indies

Background: This study examines late consequences of war and migration in both non-clinical and clinical samples of child survivors of World War II. This is one of the very few studies on the mental health of children who were subjected to internment in camps, hiding, and violence under Japanese occupation in the Far East. It provides a unique case to learn about the significance of experiences of war and migration in later life. Methods: Long-term sequelae of the Japanese persecution in the Dutch East Indies (DEI) in child survivors were studied by analyzing sets of standardized questionnaires of 939 persons. Instruments dealt with post-traumatic responses, general health, and dissociation. Participants were recruited through community services and registers of clinical services. Discriminant analyses were conducted to evaluate the significance of early experiences in determining group belonging. Results: Compared with age-matched controls that lived through the German occupation in the Netherlands during World War II, the child survivors from the DEI reported both more trauma-related experiences and mental health disturbances in later life. In particular, the number of violent events during the war, among which especially internment in a camp, contributed to the variation among groups, in support of the significance of these disruptive experiences at older age. Conclusion: The results underline the long-term significance of World War II-related traumatic experiences in the population of elderly child survivors who spent their childhood in the former DEI.



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Reference: 
T. Mooren, & R.J. Kleber | 2013
In: International Psychogeriatrics, ISSN 1041-6102 | 25 | 11 | november | 1783-1794
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9030958&fileId=S1041610213000987
Keywords: 
Children, Elderly, Migration, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Resilience, War, World War II