An assessment of Nazi concentration camp survivors for post traumatic stress disorder and neuropsychological concomitants : a clinical dissertation / by Julie M. Brody.
This study compared World War II survivors of Nazi concentration camps, survivors who spent the majority of the war in ghettos, hiding, labor camps, etc., and immigrant comparisons who fled Europe before the war, on measures of affective and cognitive functioning. The total sample consisted of 18 females (45%) and 22 males (55%), and the groups were not balanced for gender. Brief historical interviews were conducted to gather information about wartime/immigration conditions including illnesses, beatings, head injury, and excessive weight loss. The Geriatric Depression Scale and Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-Past and Current Major Depressive Episodes were administered to measure lifetime/current prevalence of depression. The PTSD Checklist (PCL-S) was utilized to assess for current PTSD symptom severity and presence of the disorder. The neuropsychological measures employed were the Animal Naming Test, California Verbal Learning Test, Digit Vigilance Test, Logical Memory and Visual Reproduction subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised, Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices, Trail Making Test-Parts A and B, and WAIS-R Vocabulary subtest. Premorbid Full Scale IQ scores were estimated using a regression equation involving Vocabulary scores and demographic variables. Concentration camp survivors reported a significantly higher incidence of typhus, beatings, and head injuries during wartime/immigration periods. They reported higher severity of current PTSD symptoms overall than non-concentration camp survivors and immigrant comparisons, but did not qualify for formal PTSD diagnoses more often than the other groups. On the PTSD Checklist, avoidance symptoms were endorsed more frequently by concentration camp survivors than the other groups; however, the symptoms most commonly reported by both Holocaust survivor groups were intrusive thoughts and memories of the war and distress prompted by reminders of the trauma. Concentration camp survivors displayed significantly poorer verbal memory skills than the non-concentration camp survivors and immigrant comparisons on immediate and delayed recall trials of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised paragraph-length stories, and intruded significantly more novel words on recall trials of the California Verbal Learning Test shopping list. The three groups performed statistically similarly on the remaining neuropsychological measures. More than 50 years after wartime internment, survivors of Nazi concentration camps continue to demonstrate post traumatic symptomatology as well as neuropsychological concomitants, specifically in the domain of verbal memory.
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