SELECTION OF STUDY GROUPS

Because the current follow-up is grounded in earlier work, a brief summary of previous study samples is warranted; further details of the sampling plan can be found in Chapter 1 and earlier reports. For the original study samples, MFUA used the Army's official roster of all known WW II prisoners of war to select independent samples of white male Army servicemen who had been captured in the Pacific theater and the European theater (later samples of Korean conflict POWs included other races; see below). Comparable control groups were drawn from Army payroll rosters; efforts were made to balance the proportion of air and ground personnel to correspond to the composition of the POW group. Later, these original samples were augmented with several others: a group of prisoners from the European theater who were sampled from POW admissions to Army hospitals for malnutrition immediately following repatriation, a group of Korean conflict prisoners of war, and a group of comparable nonprisoner controls, selected from a file of all known U.S. Army casualties wounded in action and returned to duty in Korea. The Korean conflict POW and control groups were not limited to whites.

The current survey continues the follow-up of the same sample of POWs and controls originally assembled some 40 years ago. A total of seven study groups were investigated; their abbreviated titles and number of eligible subjects are shown below:

PWP (Prisoners of War, Pacific theater, WW II), 670 subjects;

WP (War veterans, Pacific theater, WW II), 737 subjects;

PWE (Prisoners of War, European theater, WW II), 382 subjects;

PWEM (Prisoners of War, European theater, WW II, Malnourished), 258 subjects;

WE (War veterans, European theater, WW II), 383 subjects;

PWK (Prisoners of War, Korean conflict), 851 subjects; and

WK (War veterans, Korean conflict), 861 subjects.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The current study was charged to address the following questions.

  1. Will rates of psychiatric illness, as ascertained by interview and psychological evaluation, be higher among former WW II prisoners of war of the Pacific theater (PWP) than among their nonprisoner controls? Will this also hold true for WW II prisoners of war of the European theater (PWE) and prisoners of war of the Korean conflict (PWK) when compared with their respective controls? Will rates of psychiatric illness be higher among PWP and PWK than among PWE, as observed in earlier studies?



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