Coping strategies of former prisoners of war mediate the intergenerational transmission of posttraumatic stress symptoms

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Objectives: Certain coping strategies, characterized by emotional coping or disengagement/ avoidance, have been linked to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and PTSD symptoms (PTSS). However, the role of primary trauma victims’ coping strategies in the intergenerational transmission of PTSS is still lacking. This prospective study assessed the mediating role of former prisoners of war’s (ex-POWs) coping strategies in the associations between ex-POWs’ PTSS and their adult offspring’s secondary PTSS in relation to their fathers’ captivity and psychiatric symptomatology. Design: A correlational, prospective study. Method: A sample from the 1973 Yom Kippur War composed of 79 Israeli ex-POW father-offspring dyads completed self-report measures. Fathers were assessed in 2001 and 2008, and their adult offspring participated in 2014. Results: ex-POWs’ problem-focused coping strategies of active coping and planning, as well as disengagement-oriented coping strategies of alcohol and substance use and venting of emotions, were negatively associated with offspring’s PTSS and psychiatric symptomatology. Importantly, ex-POWs’ venting of emotions mediated the link between ex-POWs’ PTSS and their offspring’s secondary PTSS. Conclusions: Ex-POWs with PTSS might expose their offspring to dysregulated mood, behaviors, and cognitions. Special awareness should be given to the venting of emotions coping style as possible mechanism for the intergenerational transmission of captivity-related PTSS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-187
Number of pages13
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2018


  • Captivity
  • PTSD
  • PTSS
  • coping
  • secondary traumatization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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