Past Research Studies



1. The Acute long-term impact of prolonged under nutrition in adulthood on body composition, immune function and selected cardiovascular risk factors in RPWs
Weight gain was typical immediately following repatriation, however long-term weight changes were subtler over time.  RPWs and controls were of similar weight during their sixth decade.

2. Onset of various disease states for RPWs
RPWs were at greater risk than controls for musculoskeletal injuries, nerve damage arthritis and joint injury.  Many of these conditions were worse among RPWs with more extensive torture.

3. Gait and balance assessment in RPWs
RPWs were more impaired than controls on measures on balance and walking.  When combined with nerve damage and lower bone density, such findings may indicate an increase risk of falls and fractures  

4. Remote effects of captivity stress on cardiovascular disease
An ongoing study that addresses the relationship between internment stress, coronary heart disease, heart rate variability and current PTSD.

5. Predicting health adjustment among Vietnam-era RPWs
Age at the time of captivity, rank, military experience, career commitment and social support may reduce the long-term risk for psychological and negative health outcomes in RPWs.

6. Psychobiological assessment of high-intensity military training
Various chemicals in the body are available to reduce the impact of stress and individuals differ in the amount of these available chemicals.  Low levels of these chemicals at the time of stress predict poor stress coping and memory difficulties, perhaps setting the stage for later development of PTSD.

7. Examining the 20-year psychiatric sequelae of the RPW experience:  Methods and preliminary findings from Operation Homecoming Vietnam Veterans
RPWs are more likely than controls to receive psychiatric diagnoses.  Approximately one-third of the RPWs received such diagnoses during the follow-up period and 13% were experiencing current illnesses 20 years following repatriation.

8. Changes in outlooks among Vietnam veterans and RPWs (positive outcomes)
Evaluates the possibility of post-traumatic growth following captivity.  Positive changes in self-perception, interpersonal relationships and philosophy of life may result from captivity experiences and repatriation experiences.  

9. A qualitative investigation of Families of RPWs:  interviews with wives of RPWs
This study used one-on-one interviews with the wives of RPWs to document family challenges associated with separation and reunion.  Family hurdles associated with uncertainty, decision-making and parental responsibilities were addressed, as were the coping strategies used by the wives to deal with this stressor.  

10. Risk and resilience following repatriation – marital transitions and RPWs
When compared to controls, RPWs were at greatest risk for divorce during the first two years following repatriation.  In addition, an RPW who divorced and then remarried was twice as likely as a remarried control to “re-divorce.” 

11. Health consequences for women RPWs
This study relied on a series of interviews and record reviews to summarize the health outcomes of military nurses held captive in the Philippines and China during WWII.  Captivity-related ailments such as tuberculosis, intestinal disorders, weight loss and memory loss were common, as were liver disorders, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression later in life.  Social support, identity maintenance, remaining active, faith and positive thoughts were reported as positive factors in survival. 

12. Long-term health consequences and sources of health care for RPWs compared to Controls
Using the findings from the Health Enrollment Assessment Review, in comparison to controls, RPWs were found to be less healthy, use more resources and required more specialized care.  Many RPWs rely on the Mitchell center program for annual checkups and medical diagnoses.

13. Service utilization and satisfaction among former WWII POWs
Former WWII RPWs rely heavily on the VA for medical care, mental health care and disability compensation.  A relatively high percentage (72%) of surveyed WWII RPWs received no medical care from non-VA sources.  Survey participants were generally satisfied with care and services received from the VA.

14. Long-term health outcomes and medical effects of torture among US Navy prisoners of war in Vietnam
Vietnam RPWs were found to have higher incidence of disorders of the peripheral nervous system, joints and back relative to controls.  Being an RPW was also associated with an increased rate of peptic ulcers.

15. Cognitive Measures of Vietnam-Era Prisoners of War
Summarizes the results of the cognitive evaluation conducted 20 years post-repatriation, which documented that RPWs generally outperformed controls on measures of intelligence, memory and general neuropsychological ability.


16. Resiliency and Adaptation of Repatriated Prisoners of War from the Persian Gulf War Era:  A Qualitative Study of the Experiences and Adaptation of RPWs and their Families
Using a qualitative approach with interview data, resilience was associated with pre-trauma personal/family attributes, captivity coping skills, military commitment and post-repatriation support.  

17. The Longitudinal Neuropsychological Evaluation of Repatriated Prisoners of War
This study documented that RPWs and controls were equivalent in the areas of intelligence, memory and general neuropsychological functioning when examined at 5 and 10 years post-repatriation.

18. Preliminary Psychiatric and Psychological Findings in Studies of Vietnam-Era RPWs.  Presentation, The Repatriated Prisoner of War Health Study: A Conference on the Long-term Effects of Captivity and Torture Among Vietnam-Era POWs. 
RPWs exhibit a greater prevalence of PTSD than controls, while the prevalence of other psychiatric diagnoses do not differ between the groups.  Intelligence, memory and general neuropsychological abilities are well preserved in both groups.

19. Peritraumatic Dissociation, Depression, Memory Ability and Memory Complaints Among Repatriated Prisoners of War
This study demonstrated a complex relationship between memory self-appraisal, actual memory performance and PTSD symptoms in RPWs with and without PTSD.  RPWs with PTSD performed less well, had more dissociative experiences and experienced an increased frequency of self-rated memory failures.

20. Emotional Correlates of Predicted Neurological Status as Measured by CogScreen-AE
Using a large sample of older aviators, RPWs and controls, current psychiatric symptoms were shown to be unrelated to the results computerized cognitive assessment.  Approximately one-half of the subjects reported significant amounts psychiatric symptoms on the MMPI, but these two groups performed equivalently on a test designed to detect neurological difficulties.

21. The Relationship between Age and Neurological Status as Predicted by the CogScreen-AE
Performance on a computerized measure of cognitive ability was shown to change significantly with age in a large group of older aviators (RPWs and controls), but only one-half of those over age 60 exhibited poor test performance.  The largest group difference was observed when 60-64 year olds were compared to 65-73 year olds.

22. The Relationship Between Peritraumatic Dissociation and Chronic PTSD Symptoms Among Military Aviators  
Dissociative symptoms were significantly in RPWs than controls.  The level of peritraumatic dissociation was shown to be a better predictor of current PTSD symptoms than were factors associated with captivity duration or subjective torture severity.

23. Memory Abilities Among Healthy Older Aviators
Memory abilities, as measured by list learning and retention, remain intact in older aviators (RPWs and controls) provided there is no evidence of psychiatric or neurological illness.  The healthy older aviators in the 60-64 year old group were indistinguishable from those in the 55-59 year old group.

24. The Evaluation of Divided Attention in Older Aviators Using the CogScreen-AE 
Divided attention is a cognitive skill that is highly relevant to aviation.  Although older aviators in this study (RPWs and controls) did show some age-related decline in the ability to perform two task simultaneously, many older aviators performed at a level characteristic of younger aviators, and vice versa.  Any prediction that aviators beyond the age of 60 should show an excessive decline in performance during multi-tasking that would affect flight safety appears to be unwarranted.  

25. The Five A’s of Aviator Personality:  RPW and Controls.
Using a sample of 376 retired military aviators, RPWs and controls, personality test data identified the following components of what has previously been described as “The Right Stuff:” Adventurousness, Aggression, Affiliation, Achievement and Adaptability.

26. The Evaluation of Depression in Older Aviators
This study established guidelines for the use of a standard depression scale with older aviators (RPWs and controls).  Published norms are inadequate for use with aviators as only one-half of the depressed aviators scored above the published norms.

27. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms as Predictors of Osteopenia in Older Aviators 
Body Mass Index and PTSD symptom severity were identified as significant predictors of lower bone mineral density in RPWs and controls.  These variables were significant after accounting for the effects of age alcohol use, depression and dissociative symptoms.  Chronic and/or severe stress that results in a higher cortisol level may contribute to later reductions in bone mineral density.

28. WAIS Correlates of CogScreen-AE Performance for Older Aviators
In a sample of older aviators, RPWs and controls, the relationships between performance on a computerized cognitive screening instrument and standard intelligence tests were explored.  Although the observed test correlations were consistent with previous research, this study documented that computerized testing adds a unique component to the evaluation of older aviators.

29. Post-Captivity Cortisol Levels Predict Later-Onset Osteopenia in Former Prisoners of War   
In this study, cortisol levels obtained five years post-repatriation were shown to predict current low bone mineral density in a group of Vietnam RPWs.  Higher Cortisol levels in 1978 were predictive of lower bone mineral density in 2003.

30. Cortisol Levels Decrease Over Time in Former Prisoners of War
Current Cortisol levels were significantly lower than those obtained in 1978 in a group of RPWs.  The Cortisol level from 1978 was highly predictive of the level in 2003.  Captivity-related weight loss and other torture-specific variables failed to predict current Cortisol levels, suggesting that the decline in Cortisol levels may be typical of the general male population.

31. Symptoms of Sleep Disorders in Older Aviators
This study established guidelines for screening older aviators, RPWs and control, for symptoms of sleep disorders.  The observed pattern of item endorsement suggests the need for careful evaluation of Sleep Apnea and Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep.

32. Long Term Impact of Captivity Experience oon Later Life Mental Health among Vietnam Repatriated Prisoners of War. This study demonstrated that a subset of RPWs who were younger and had more illnesses overall and worse PTSD had more mental health issues later on in life