Posttraumatic Growth as a Response to Natural Disasters in Children and Adolescents
- 145 Downloads
Purpose of Review
This review examines factors thought to be associated with posttraumatic growth (PTG) (demographic variables, exposure, and family and social processes) among youth exposed to natural disasters, describes the relationship between PTG and posttraumatic stress, and discusses psychological processes (rumination and coping) linked to PTG.
Guided by PTG theory and the literature on PTG in adults, research has revealed relationships between PTG and child, environmental, and family and social factors among youth though the results are mixed. Youth’s subjective exposure to disasters, their level of posttraumatic stress following the disaster, and the type of psychological processes they employ to cope with the disaster appear to be associated with PTG.
Research has garnered preliminary support for PTG in children exposed to natural disasters but additional research is needed to fully explicate these relationships and to understand how these relationships change over time.
KeywordsPosttraumatic growth Natural disasters Children Trauma Disaster reactions
The editors would like to thank Dr. Matthew J. Friedman for taking the time to review this manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Melissa Bernstein and Betty Pfefferbaum declare no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
- 1.Tedeschi R, Calhoun L. Trauma and Transformation: Growing in the Aftermath of Suffering. 1st ed. Sage Publications; 2012.Google Scholar
- 12.Cohen J, Mannarino AP, Deblinger E. Trauma-focused CBT for children and adolescents: treatment application. New York: Guilford Press; 2012. PrintGoogle Scholar
- 13.Cohen J, Mannarino AP, Deblinger E. Treating trauma and traumatic grief in children and adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press; 2006. Print.Google Scholar
- 22.•• Felix E, Afifi T, Kia-Keating M, Brown L, Afifi W, Reyes G. Family functioning and posttraumatic growth among parents and youth following wildfire disasters. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2015;85:191–200. This study found that demographic variables, including age and gender, were related to greater posttraumatic growth among youth exposed to wild fires. Greater fire stress, life stressors and the use of positive reappraisal were also related to higher levels of posttraumatic growth among youth. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 23.•• Guo M, Gan Y, Tong J. The role of meaning-focused coping in significant loss. Anxiety, Stress, Coping. 2013;26:87–102. This study examined the relationship between three types of coping styles and posttraumatic growth, finding that meaning-focused coping was related to higher levels of posttraumatic growth, higher well-being, and positive affect compared to other coping styles. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 26.•• Jia X, Ying L, Zhou X, Wu X, Lin C. The effects of extraversion, social support on the posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic growth of adolescent survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0121480. Social support partially mediated the relationship between extraversion and posttraumatic growth, and fully mediated the relationship between extraversion and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms among youth survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 29.• Wu X, Zhou X, Wu Y, An Y. The role of rumination in posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic growth among adolescents after the wenchuan earthquake. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1335. This study found that type and timing of rumination served as a mediator in the overall relationship between rumination and posttraumatic growth among school aged children following a natural disaster. PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 30.•• Ying L, Lin C, Wu X, Chen C, Greenberger E, An Y. Trauma severity and control beliefs as predictors of posttraumatic growth among adolescent survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake. Psychol Trauma. 2014;6:192–8. In this longitudinal study of children exposed to the Wenchuan earthquake, primary control beliefs moderated the relationship between worry and posttraumatic growth. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 40.American Psychiatric Association. Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm07. Accessed 24 April 2017.
- 46.Compas BE, Epping JE. Stress and coping in children and families: implications for children coping with disaster. In: Saylor, Conway, Fleming, editors. Children and disasters. New York: Plenum Press; 1993. p. 11–28.Google Scholar