Title

Military Service, Exposure to Trauma, and Health in Older Adulthood: An Analysis of Northern Vietnamese Survivors of the Vietnam War

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

8-2014

Abstract

Objectives. We sought to better understand the association between early life exposure to war and trauma and older adult health status in a developing setting. Methods. We analyzed data of 405 Vietnamese men and women in 1 northern Vietnam commune who entered early adulthood during the Vietnam War and who are now entering late adulthood (i.e., ages 55 years and older in 2010). Results. The toll of war’s trauma in the aging northern Vietnamese population was perceptible in the association between exposure to war trauma and various measures of physical health, including negative self-reported health and somatic symptoms. Killing another person and being exposed to toxic substances in warfare was especially detrimental to health in older adulthood. War traumas were likely implicated more strongly as determinants of late adulthood health in men than in women. The weak association between trauma exposure and reported depressive symptoms raised questions about measuring mental health. Conclusions. Military service and war trauma were important determinants of older adult health beyond the US context, given the widespread waging of war and concentration of recent armed conflicts within developing societies.

Keywords

War, Health, Military service, Veterans, Civilians, Vietnam

Discipline

Asian Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Politics and Social Change

Research Areas

Sociology

Publication

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

104

Issue

8

First Page

1478

Last Page

1487

ISSN

0090-0036

Identifier

10.2105/AJPH.2014.301925

Publisher

American Public Health Association

Copyright Owner and License

American Public Health Association

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2014.301925