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Title: Post-traumatic growth in physical health conditions : the role of distress and cognitive processing
Author: Beckwith, Philippa
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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Physical health conditions can be traumatic and are often associated with psychological morbidity. Recently, researchers have recognised that people are also capable of experiencing enhanced interpersonal relationships, greater appreciation of life and increased personal strength as a result of physical health problems. Typically, this posttraumatic growth has been conceptualised from the perspective of acute trauma, thus a need to better understand the development of the phenomenon for people with health related trauma and examine the relevance of current theoretical models was identified. This review presents an evaluation of empirical literature relating to four theoretical models of posttraumatic growth. The review highlights the commonalities of the models in their emphasis on distress and cognitive processing as crucial for positive outcomes although the research reflects mixed findings for the role of distress. The discussion explores the clinical implications of the literature whilst acknowledging the need for further, theory-driven research with populations affected by sudden onset physical health conditions. Consequently, the empirical paper examines key predictions of an influential theoretical model of posttraumatic growth in adults after spinal cord injury. Using a cross-sectional design, the study aimed to understand the role of cognitive processing and distress in the development of posttraumatic growth. A total of 102 participants between one and 42 months post-injury completed measures of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, intrusive rumination, deliberate rumination and posttraumatic growth. Overall, participants exhibited comparable levels of posttraumatic growth to other health populations with depression and deliberate cognitive processing significantly predictive of growth outcomes. However, different types of distress showed different relationships with posttraumatic growth. The study findings were consistent with other empirical studies and revealed important clinical implications for the provision of psychological therapy to people after spinal cord injury. The methodological limitations and modifications that would benefit from further research are discussed.
Supervisor: Kirby, Sarah ; North, Nigel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; R Medicine (General)