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Posttraumatic growth, social acknowledgment as survivors, and sense of coherence in former German child soldiers of World War II


Forstmeier, Simon; Kuwert, P; Spitzer, C; Freyberger, H J; Maercker, Andreas (2009). Posttraumatic growth, social acknowledgment as survivors, and sense of coherence in former German child soldiers of World War II. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17(2):1030-1039.

Abstract

Objectives: To examine posttraumatic growth and its predictors social acknowledgment as survivors, sense of coherence, trauma severity, and further factors in former child soldiers more than 60 years after deployment.
Design: Cross-sectional.
Setting: University-based geropsychiatric center in Germany.
Participants: 103 former German child soldiers of World War II, mean age 78 years, 96% experienced at least one war trauma.
Measurement: Subjects completed the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), Social Acknowledgment Questionnaire (SAQ), and Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC). Trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms were assessed by the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS). Depression, anxiety, and somatization were assessed using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI).
Results: Number of traumas, recognition by significant others, and general disapproval as facets of social acknowledgment as a survivor, and meaningfulness as a dimension of sense of coherence correlated significantly with posttraumatic growth. In a multiple hierarchical regression analysis, recognition as a survivor by significant others (SAQ) and meaningfulness (SOC) remained the only significant predictors of posttraumatic growth.
Conclusion: Social acknowledgment as a survivor by significant others and the belief that the world is meaningful are among the most important factors contributing to posttraumatic growth. Further research should investigate whether treatments of PTSD in people who experienced war traumas recently or many years ago might benefit from a focus on the belief system and the role of family and social support.

Abstract

Objectives: To examine posttraumatic growth and its predictors social acknowledgment as survivors, sense of coherence, trauma severity, and further factors in former child soldiers more than 60 years after deployment.
Design: Cross-sectional.
Setting: University-based geropsychiatric center in Germany.
Participants: 103 former German child soldiers of World War II, mean age 78 years, 96% experienced at least one war trauma.
Measurement: Subjects completed the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), Social Acknowledgment Questionnaire (SAQ), and Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC). Trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms were assessed by the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS). Depression, anxiety, and somatization were assessed using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI).
Results: Number of traumas, recognition by significant others, and general disapproval as facets of social acknowledgment as a survivor, and meaningfulness as a dimension of sense of coherence correlated significantly with posttraumatic growth. In a multiple hierarchical regression analysis, recognition as a survivor by significant others (SAQ) and meaningfulness (SOC) remained the only significant predictors of posttraumatic growth.
Conclusion: Social acknowledgment as a survivor by significant others and the belief that the world is meaningful are among the most important factors contributing to posttraumatic growth. Further research should investigate whether treatments of PTSD in people who experienced war traumas recently or many years ago might benefit from a focus on the belief system and the role of family and social support.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:2009
Deposited On:13 Jan 2010 09:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:39
Publisher:American Psychiatry Press
ISSN:1064-7481
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181ab8b36
PubMed ID:20104060

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