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Keywords:

  • family disruption;
  • unaccompanied evacuation;
  • childhood trauma;
  • adult depression;
  • fostering

ABSTRACT

This paper combined data collected from war time government records with survey data including background characteristics, such as factors that affected eligibility, to examine the adult depression outcomes of individuals who were evacuated from Finland to temporary foster care in Sweden during World War II.

Using war time government records and survey data for a random sample of 723 exposed individuals and 1321 matched unexposed individuals, the authors conducted least squares adjusted means comparison to examine the association between evacuation and adult depression (Beck Depression Inventory). The random sample was representative for the whole population of evacuees who returned to their biological families after World War II. The authors found no statistically significant difference in depressive symptoms during late adulthood between the two groups; for example, the exposed group had a 0.41 percentage points lower average Beck Depression Inventory score than the unexposed group (p = 0.907). This study provides no support for family disruption during early childhood because of the onset of sudden shocks elevating depressive symptoms during late adulthood. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.