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Posttraumatic growth in combat veterans with PTSD. A literature review

Decker, V.S. (2016) Posttraumatic growth in combat veterans with PTSD. A literature review.

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Abstract:Posttraumatic growth (PTG), the process of developing beyond one’s previous level of well-being after having experienced an adverse event, is an extensively studied and well researched concept of positive psychology. Nevertheless, there are calls for more specialized knowledge about mechanisms that are at hand in different sample groups that face adversity (Morris, Shakespeare‐Finch, Rieck & Newbery, 2005; Zoellner & Maercker, 2006). One such specialized group are military members who are frequently faced with potential traumatizing events (Suliman et al., 2009). This literature review examines which variables affect PTG in combat veterans and answers the overall question to what extent PTG affects posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -symptoms in combat veterans. The search for appropriate, empirical studies resulted in a total of 19 articles, which surveyed the effects of PTG on PTSD in mainly male and Caucasian combat veterans. All of these studies assessed PTG and PTSD via self-assessment. This proved to be a major drawback in these studies. Next to that, the review indicated two different relationships of PTG and PTSD in combat veterans. Most of the studies (n=13) proved a negative effect and the minority (n=5) a curvilinear. Furthermore, interventions that supported PTG in combat veterans turned out to have a better effect when taking place after or before the deployment. The results of the 19 reviewed studies formed the basis for the creation of the ‘PTG-ComVet’-model, which is the first of its kind. This predictive model consists out of the following seven groups of variables: (1)demographics, (2)military factors, (3)emotions, (4)cognitions, (5)pathologies, (6)individual factors and (7)social factors. These variables predict PTG at three different points of time: before, during and after the deployment. Including this time aspect and solely significant variables for developing PTG in combat veterans, the model receives significance for scientific research and practical treatment. To create a better understanding about the meaning and the significance of the obtained findings, the results are finally discussed. In bringing together current and former scientific findings, this discussion enabled the creation of ten implications for future research. These implications represent possible directions for future research. Posttraumatic growth (PTG), the process of developing beyond one’s previous level of well-being after having experienced an adverse event, is an extensively studied and well researched concept of positive psychology. Nevertheless, there are calls for more specialized knowledge about mechanisms that are at hand in different sample groups that face adversity (Morris, Shakespeare‐Finch, Rieck & Newbery, 2005; Zoellner & Maercker, 2006). One such specialized group are military members who are frequently faced with potential traumatizing events (Suliman et al., 2009). This literature review examines which variables affect PTG in combat veterans and answers the overall question to what extent PTG affects posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -symptoms in combat veterans. The search for appropriate, empirical studies resulted in a total of 19 articles, which surveyed the effects of PTG on PTSD in mainly male and Caucasian combat veterans. All of these studies assessed PTG and PTSD via self-assessment. This proved to be a major drawback in these studies. Next to that, the review indicated two different relationships of PTG and PTSD in combat veterans. Most of the studies (n=13) proved a negative effect and the minority (n=5) a curvilinear. Furthermore, interventions that supported PTG in combat veterans turned out to have a better effect when taking place after or before the deployment. The results of the 19 reviewed studies formed the basis for the creation of the ‘PTG-ComVet’-model, which is the first of its kind. This predictive model consists out of the following seven groups of variables: (1)demographics, (2)military factors, (3)emotions, (4)cognitions, (5)pathologies, (6)individual factors and (7)social factors. These variables predict PTG at three different points of time: before, during and after the deployment. Including this time aspect and solely significant variables for developing PTG in combat veterans, the model receives significance for scientific research and practical treatment. To create a better understanding about the meaning and the significance of the obtained findings, the results are finally discussed. In bringing together current and former scientific findings, this discussion enabled the creation of ten implications for future research. These implications represent possible directions for future research.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/70673
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