To the Editor: Although some studies have found
decreased cognitive performance in repatriated prisoners of war (POWS),1,2 other studies have not found
such deficits.3,4 Many of
the studies that have found an intellectual decrement in POWs have methodological
limitations, including failure to control for concurrent depression, posttraumatic
stress disorder, or other mental illness; nonrandom selection of participants
who were unmotivated to malinger; lack of a control group; and insufficient
matching between POWs and controls.4 In
contrast, the largest investigation,3 which
studied more than 2500 World War II and Korean War POWs, noted that evidence
of organic brain syndrome was "conspicuously absent" from the diagnoses differentiating
POWs from controls. More recently, no cognitive differences were found on
any cognitive test or on the computed axial tomography scans of POWs and controls.4 We assessed the relative cognitive status of US
Navy Vietnam-era POWs using data gathered by the Naval Operational Medicine
Institute's ongoing POW research program.
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