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Perceived posttraumatic growth and depreciation after spinal cord injury: actual or illusory?

Kunz, Simon; Joseph, Stephen; Greyhand, Silvia; Peter, Claudio

Perceived posttraumatic growth and depreciation after spinal cord injury: actual or illusory? Thumbnail


Simon Kunz

Silvia Greyhand

Claudio Peter


Objective: This study examined whether retrospective reports of posttraumatic growth (PTG) and depreciation (PTD) of individuals recently diagnosed with a spinal cord injury (SCI) coincide with prospectively measured changes in the conceptually close domains of general self-efficacy (SE) and purpose in life (PIL). The study also tested whether PTG/D and changes in SE and PIL independently predict psychological adjustment to the injury (depressive symptoms, anxiety, life satisfaction). Methods: Adopting a longitudinal design, a sample of 206 newly-injured patients admitted to one of the four Swiss SCI rehabilitation centers was analyzed. SE and PIL were assessed one month after injury diagnosis and at rehabilitation discharge, PTG/D and the adjustment indicators only at discharge. Structural equation modelling was used to calculate latent change scores for SE and PIL, to correlate these scores to PTG/D scores, and to regress the adjustment indicators on both of them. Results: PTG/D scores were weakly (rmax=.20, p=.033) correlated to changes in SE and PIL. In the multivariate analyses, positive changes in SE and PIL and PTG scores were all associated with better adjustment (e.g., fewer depressive symptoms). In contrast, PTD scores were related to lower adjustment. Conclusions: These results suggest that PTG/D in the initial time after a potentially traumatic medical event seem to be illusory to some degree, as indicated by their weak association with “actual” (i.e., longitudinally measured) changes. Nevertheless, both, PTG/D and actual changes, need to be considered by researchers and clinicians, as they seem to be independently related to psychological adjustment.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 18, 2018
Publication Date Nov 1, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 22, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 22, 2018
Journal Health Psychology
Print ISSN 0278-6133
Electronic ISSN 1930-7810
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 1
Pages 53-62
Keywords Spinal cord injuries; Posttraumatic growth; Depression; Anxiety; Self efficacy
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information ©American Psychological Association, 2018. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:


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