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Trauma and Current Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Elderly German Women Who Experienced Wartime Rapes in 1945

Kuwert, Philipp MD; Klauer, Thomas PhD; Eichhorn, Svenja Dipl.-Psych.; Grundke, Elena Dipl.-Psych.; Dudeck, Manuela MD; Schomerus, Georg MD; Freyberger, Harald J. MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2010 - Volume 198 - Issue 6 - p 450-451
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181e08685
Brief Reports

The aim of this study was to determine the persistent trauma impact and significant posttraumatic stress symptoms in a sample of very elderly German women who survived the mass rapes committed by soldiers at the end of World War II. A total of 27 women were recruited, interviewed, and then administered a modified Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale. They all reported a very severe degree of trauma exposure in 1945; 19% reported significant current posttraumatic stress symptoms indicating a possible posttraumatic stress disorder at the time of the study, and 30% fulfilled the criteria of a current partial posttraumatic stress disorder. The results highlight the necessity for prevention and treatment programs for women exposed to wartime rapes in current conflict settings worldwide, and the need to identify and treat posttraumatic conditions in the elderly generation of all countries exposed to World War II trauma.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, Stralsund, Germany.

Supported by Gesellschaft für Nervenheilkunde des Landes Mecklenburg Vorpommern (society for nervous and mental disease Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), 4 thousand €.

Send reprint requests to Philipp Kuwert, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, Rostocker Chaussee 70, D-18437 Stralsund, Germany. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.