Post-traumatic growth in the military: a systematic review

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Background Post-traumatic growth is defined as
positive psychological, social or spiritual growth after a
Objectives This systematic review aimed to identify
studies that quantitatively measured post-traumatic
growth among (ex-) military personnel, to determine
whether there is evidence of growth in this context
and whether such growth is associated with any
sociodemographic, military, trauma or mental health
Data sources The electronic databases PsycInfo,
OVIDmedline and Embase were searched for studies
published between 2001 and 2017.
Study eligibility criteria and participants Papers
were retained if they involved military or ex-military
personnel, where some had been deployed to Iraq or
Study appraisal Quality assessment was conducted on
all studies.
Results 21 studies were retained. The Post-Traumatic
Growth Inventory was employed by 14 studies: means
ranged from 32.60 (standard deviation = 14.88) to
59.07 (23.48). The Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory
Short Form was used by five studies: means ranged from
17.11 (14.88) to 20.40 (11.88). These values suggest
moderate growth. Higher levels of social support,
spirituality and rumination and minority ethnicity were
most frequently associated with more post-traumatic
Limitations The involved studies may lack
generalisability and methodological quality.
Conclusions Overall, this paper confirms that negative
reactions to trauma, particularly post-traumatic stress
disorder, are not the only possible outcomes for service
personnel, as moderate post-traumatic growth can also
be observed.
Implications of key findings Interventions aimed at
helping current and former armed forces personnel to
identify and promote post-traumatic growth post-conflict
may be beneficial for their well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-915
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
Early online date30 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Oct 2018


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