Associations between time since event and posttraumatic growth among military veterans
Despite efforts to understand the antecedents, correlates, and consequences of post-traumatic growth (PTG), the role of time since a traumatic event (time since event) vis-a-vis PTG is not well understood. Part of a larger project exploring experiences following emotionally distressing events among military veterans (N = 197) using Amazon's Mechanical Turk (Mturk), in the current study, we sought to clarify associations between the time since event and PTG. We used cluster-analytic techniques and analyses of variance to (a) determine the number of clusters, and (b) assess differences in core constructs of PTG and participant characteristics across clusters. Results revealed 4 significantly different groups (i.e., clusters) characterized by differential associations between PTG and time since event. These groups also differed significantly in challenge to core beliefs, level of PTSD symptoms, intrusive and deliberate rumination, and age. The immediate moderate-growth group (Cluster 1) experienced moderate levels of PTG over shorter periods of time, severe PTSD symptoms, and was significantly younger. The low-growth group (Cluster 2) was characterized by minimal PTG, regardless of time, the least challenge to core beliefs, and low amounts of intrusive and deliberate rumination. The long-term small-growth group (Cluster 3) was primarily characterized by small amounts of PTG over longer periods of time. The high-growth group (Cluster 4) was characterized by high PTG, regardless of time, greater challenge to core beliefs, the highest amount of deliberate rumination, and the highest number of PTSD symptoms. Findings underscore heterogeneity within military veterans' experiences of PTG over time.
What is the public significance of this article?
This study suggests that there are distinct subgroups of military veterans who have experienced adversity defined by differing levels of posttraumatic growth and time since traumatic event. Posttraumatic growth should be assessed at multiple time points in research and practice, as it may require some time to pass for individuals to report growth.