Post-traumatic growth following life-threatening illness
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- © 2008 Emma Toland. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
The experience of a heart attack (MI) can be an event that causes distress severe enough to satisfy DSM-IV criteria for trauma in some individuals. However, research has shown that positive outcomes can also follow traumatic events; this has been defined as Posttraumatic Growth (PTG). This cross-sectional study compared the level and pattern of PTG reported by a post-MI sample (n = 97) with that of a healthy control sample (n = 86); and examined demographic, disease-related, social and psychological correlates and predictors of growth. Post-MI patients reported greater PTG than healthy controls in the areas of 'relating to others' and 'appreciation for life'. Post-MI patients' growth was associated with greater support from family, and was unrelated to distress. Perceived severity of the event had a significant effect on PTG, but objective severity largely did not. Although less overall growth was reported than that following other life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, practitioners should be aware of the possibility for growth. Additionally, the meaning that patients ascribe to their MI has been shown to be more important for psychological adjustment than biological markers because perceived severity of MI had more impact on PTG than objective severity.
- Department of Clinical Psychology, Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
- Frizelle, Dorothy J.
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