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Conference Paper

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The long-term, indirect effects of war on older adult health are poorly understood, especially in less developed societies where armed conflict concentrates. In this paper we analyse the determinants of self-reported health, chronic conditions, somatoform symptoms and depressive symptoms in a sample of northern Vietnamese ages 55 and older, who encountered mass mobilization for war and widespread exposure to war traumas in early adulthood. Results of multivariate models indicate that service in combat roles predicts poor self-reported health, health complaints and chronic illness in late adulthood. No such relationship is observed for depressive symptoms, a pattern consistent with previous research indicating somatic symptom complaints are more common than psychological symptoms in nonwestern, low-income countries. The relationship between combatant status and ill health is mediated by exposure to particular wartime traumas, in particular involvement in killing/wounding others and suffering exposure to toxic substances. These results convey war's underappreciated long-term health consequences.


Asian Studies | Medicine and Health

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Population Association of America Annual Meeting 2013, April 11-13

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New Orleans, LA

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.