Journal Article Critique on Prisoners of War

Journal Article Critique

For servicemen, being captured by the enemies in the battlefield is one of the most dreaded and traumatizing experience of their lives. Historically, most of the prisoners of war have been subjected to harrowing experiences including torture by the enemy in their quest to extract intelligence information. Many lives have been lost due to torture by enemies. Those who survive the ordeal are usually left traumatized and sink into depression and other related psychological conditions. Their social life including marriage suffer significantly as a result (Zerach, Anat, Solomon & Heruti, 2010) With hundreds of servicemen captured in every war waged across the globe, this translates to hundreds of ex-prisoners battling psychological and physical disorders as a result of war captivity. Therefore, development of knowledge base through empirical studies on the association between PTSD and other psychological disorders and war captivity is critical in helping ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) recover from their ordeals.

Purpose of the Study

A study was conducted to establish the long-term correlation “between trauma, PTSD symptoms and PD of Israeli ex-POWs from the 1973 Yom Kippur War” (Zerach, Greene, Ginzburg & Solomon, 2014). The researchers, Gadi Zerach, Talya Greene, Karni Ginzburg, and Zahava Solomon, used a longitudinal empirical study to fill the knowledge gap on the relation between on the long-term manifestation of these psychological disorders among ex-prisoners of war. The study sought to test three hypotheses. First, the study sought to test whether there is a long term relation between PTSD and persistent dissociation (PD) among ex-prisoners of war. They also tested the long-term positive correlation between stressors associated with war captivity and PTSD, and PD. Lastly, the researchers also tested the long term relation between PD and war captivity via PTSD.


The researchers sampled male Yom Kippur War veterans from Israel and carried out a self-reporting 17-year study in three phases. The data was collected in 1991, 2003 and 2008. It was a case study that observed the behaviors of an experimental group and compared it with the control group. The experimental started off in the first phase (T1) in 1991 with 164 Israeli veterans. The number reduced to 144 in T2 and increased to 183 in T3 of 2008 due to various reasons including mental problems and deaths. While the experimental group was comprised of ex-prisoners of war, the control group was made up of combat veterans who never experienced war captivity but fought in the same war with the ex-POWs. The T1 for control group was 185 but the number thinned out to 143 and 118 in T2 and T3, respectively. The comparison was limited to sociodemographic variables including marriage length, education, age and military rank (Zerach, Greene, Ginzburg & Solomon, 2014).


The study established that there was a strong correlation between PTSD and war captivity with ex-POWs and control group scoring 34.7% and 2.5% at T3, respectively based on chi-square analysis. The manifestation of PTSD symptoms at T3 among ex-POWs also indicated the relationship between war captivity and PD via PTSD symptoms. The study also established a strong long term relationship between war captivity, PD and PTSD (Zerach, Greene, Ginzburg & Solomon, 2014).

Despite their findings, the researchers noted that the study was limited by self-reporting approach as it was subjective and susceptible to bias. Collecting data from multiple sources and angles would have presented a more objective assessment. The study did not include pre-assessment reports on the veterans including their childhood experiences which might have affected the outcome of the study. Moreover, the longitudinal parameters used were not very strong as it left out options for studying the longitudinal correlations between the variables. Other valuable information on the veterans within the study period was not monitored effectively due to the phase-based approach (Zerach, Greene, Ginzburg & Solomon, 2014).


This research expanded the existing knowledge on PTSD, trauma and PD among ex-POWs. It provides a good foundation for design treatment and management models for these psychological conditions among ex-POWs. Despite the numerous the limitations which might affect the critical findings of the study, I believe it was properly done. Its findings and arguments were sound and well-referenced. The findings are valid as they acknowledged their limitations and provided a way forward for future studies. This study has expanded my knowledge on these psychological conditions.



Zerach, G., Greene, T., Ginzburg, K. & Solomon, Z. (2014). The relations between posttraumatic stress disorder and persistent dissociation among ex-prisoners of war: A longitudinal study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 6(2), 99 –108. Retrieved 28, October 2017 from:

Zerach, G., Anat, B. D., Solomon, Z. & Heruti, R. (2010). Posttraumatic symptoms, marital intimacy, dyadic adjustment, and sexual satisfaction among ex-prisoners of war. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 2739 –2749.