Background: War captivity and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are known to be associated with several poor health outcomes of an accelerated aging process. However, the contribution of personality protective factors to this phenomenon are rarely studied. The present 24-year prospective study examined associations between psychological hardiness and three health outcomes: C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, metabolic syndrome (MetS), and telomere length (TL). Method: Eighty-eight Israeli former prisoners of war (ex-POWs) were assessed 18 (T1) and 42 (T2) years after repatriation. Data on hardiness was collected at T1 while leukocyte TL, CRP, and MetS data was collected 42 years after the war. Results: While adjusting for age, body mass index (BMI), self-rated health, depressive and PTSD symptoms at T2, higher levels of hardiness at T1 predicted decreased CRP and longer TL at T2. Conclusions: Long-term health vulnerabilities of traumatized ex-POWs are manifested in an accelerated aging process and cellular senescence. Raising awareness of the importance of protective factors such as veterans' hardiness might be associated with improving their longevity and well-being.
- Telomere length