Posttraumatic stress disorder and current relationship functioning among World War II ex-prisoners of war

J Fam Psychol. 2004 Mar;18(1):36-45. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.18.1.36.


This study examined the association of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the quality of intimate relationships among present-day male World War II ex-prisoners of war (POWs). Ex-POWs had considerable marital stability; those with PTSD were no less likely to be in an intimate relationship. Ex-POWs in an intimate relationship who had PTSD (N=125 ) were compared with ex-POWs in a relationship who did not have PTSD (N=206). Marital functioning was within a range expected for persons without traumatic exposure. Yet, over 30% of those with PTSD reported relationship problems compared with only 11% of those without PTSD. Ex-POWs with PTSD reported poorer adjustment and communication with their partners and more difficulties with intimacy. Emotional numbing was significantly associated with relationship difficulties independent of other symptom complexes and severity of PTSD. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Warfare*