Structural models of captivity trauma, resilience, and trauma response among former prisoners of war 20 to 40 years after release

Long-term responses to captivity trauma were measured in a national sample of American former prisoners of war. Their responses included negative affect, positive affect, and somatic symptoms as assessed by the Cornell Medical Index in 1967 and the Center for Epidemiological Study Depression Scale in 1985. These responses were strongly associated with captivity trauma (as indexed by captivity weight loss, torture, and disease) and resilience (as indexed by age and education at capture). Symptoms reported in 1967 were related to symptoms reported in 1985, suggesting symptom stability. These results are consistent with a model of trauma response that incorporates both trauma exposure and individual resilience. The findings are interpreted within a theoretical view of trauma response as adaptive when viewed from an evolutionary perspective.