Reminiscence functions and the health of Israeli Holocaust survivors as compared to other older Israelis and older Canadians

Norm Orourke, Yaacov G. Bachner, Philippe Cappeliez, Habib Chaudhury, Sara Carmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Existing research with English-speaking samples indicates that various ways in which older adults recall their past affect both their physical and mental health. Self-positive reminiscence functions (i.e. identity, problem-solving, death preparation) correlate and predict mental health in later life whereas self-negative functions (i.e. bitterness revival, boredom reduction, intimacy maintenance) correlate and predict the physical health of older adults.Method: For this study, we recruited 295 Israeli Holocaust survivors to ascertain if early life trauma affects these associations between reminiscence and health. In order to distinguish cross-national differences from survivor-specific effects, we also recruited two comparative samples of other older Israelis (not Holocaust survivors; n = 205) and a second comparative sample of 335 older Canadians. Three separate structural equation models were computed to replicate this tripartite reminiscence and health model.Results: Coefficients for self-negative functions significantly differed between survivors and both Canadians and other older Israelis, and between Canadians and both Israeli samples. However, no differences were found between prosocial and self-positive functions. Moreover, the higher order structure of reminiscence and health appears largely indistinguishable across these three groups.Conclusion: Early life trauma does not appear to fundamentally affect associations between reminiscence and health. These findings underscore the resilience of Holocaust survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-346
Number of pages12
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2015

Keywords

  • Holocaust survivors
  • cross-national comparisons
  • health
  • invariance analyses
  • reminiscence functions
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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