Use of medical and mental health care by World War II survivors in The Netherlands
This study examined the mental and medical health care utilization of World War II (WW II) survivors and the characteristics of survivors seeking professional health care. Forty seven years after the end of WW II, a random sample of 4,057 Dutch WW II survivors answered a four-page questionnaire; 1,461 persons subsequently answered an extensive follow-up questionnaire. Twenty-two percent had sought some form of health care for war-related complaints at some time since WW II. Most consultations were made in the 1940s. More consultations were made to general practitioners or to medical specialists as opposed to mental health specialists. Although the level of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms was most important for discriminating between help-seeking and non-help-seeking respondents, 59% of the highly-exposed respondents with PTSD had not sought professional help in the years 1990-1992. The results show the importance of primary health care in recognizing PTSD symptoms and referring survivors to the appropriate professional helper.
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