Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress - a network analysis among Syrian and Iraqi refugees

List of Authors: Kangaslampi Samuli, Peltonen Kirsi, Hall Jonathan

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Publication year: 2022

Journal: European Journal of Psychotraumatology



Volume number: 13

Issue number: 2

Number of pages: 12

ISSN: 2000-8198

eISSN: 2000-8066



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Background: Traumatic events related to war and displacement may lead to development of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), but many war trauma survivors also report experiencing posttraumatic growth (PTG). However, the phenomenon of PTG remains poorly understood among refugees. Previous findings are also contradictory on whether more PTSS associate with PTG and what specific symptoms or aspects of growth may account for any possible link.

Objective and Method: Here, we aimed to better understand posttraumatic growth among refugees, especially its structure and most important constituent elements, as well as how it associates with PTSS. We employed regression and network analysis methods with a large sample (N = 3,159) of Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in Turkey self-reporting on PTG and PTSS.

Results: We found PTG and PTSS to be clearly distinct phenomena. Still, they often co-occurred, with a positive, slightly U-shaped relationship found between levels of PTSS and PTG. The main bridge between the constructs was identified from intrusive symptoms to having new priorities in life, although new priorities were more peripheral to the overall network structure of PTG. Meanwhile, discovering new psychological strengths and abilities and a new path in life emerged as elements most central to PTG itself.

Conclusions: Many refugees report elements of PTG, even as they suffer from significant PTSS. The two phenomena appear distinct but positively associated, supporting the idea that intense cognitive processing involving distress may be necessary for growth after trauma. Our findings may inform efforts to support refugee trauma survivors in finding meaning and perhaps even growth after highly challenging experiences.

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Last updated on 2022-29-11 at 12:26