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What predicts personal growth following a deployment? An examination of National Guard soldiers through the lens of posttraumatic growth

APA Citation:

Farero, A. M., Blow, A. J., Bowles, R. P., Gorman Ufer, L., Kees, M., & Guty, D. (2021). What predicts personal growth following a deployment? An examination of National Guard soldiers through the lens of posttraumatic growth. Military Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/08995605.2021.2002105

Abstract Created by REACH:

Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is shown when positive outcomes emerge after trauma (e.g., combat). At several points in the deployment cycle (i.e., pre-deployment, reintegration, and 1 and 2 years post-deployment), 1,356 National Guard Soldiers reported on areas that can show PTG, such as improvements in their ability to handle stress, social support seeking, or purpose in life. This study examined whether these potential PTG areas can be used to classify Guardsmen into groups based on similar reports of growth (or lack thereof), and, subsequently, whether these growth groups could be differentiated based on reported reintegration adjustment (e.g., optimism, posttraumatic stress [PTSD] symptoms). Almost half of all Guardsmen met the criteria for the Overall Growth or Resilient groups, reflecting the considerable resilience of the Guardsmen despite experiencing trauma.

Focus:

Deployment
Mental health

Branch of Service:

Army

Military Affiliation:

Guard

Subject Affiliation:

Guard/Reserve member

Population:

Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)

Methodology:

Longitudinal Study
Secondary Analysis

Authors:

Farero, Adam M., Blow, Adrian J., Bowles, Ryan P., Ufer, Lisa, Kees, Michelle, Guty, Danielle

Abstract:

National Guard soldiers experience unique reintegration challenges. In addition to managing the consequences of combat-related trauma, they also navigate multiple transitions between military and civilian life. Despite these obstacles, many soldiers report positive outcomes and personal growth due to deployment, a phenomenon most commonly referred to in the literature as posttraumatic growth (PTG). The current study explored PTG in National Guard soldiers using a multidimensional longitudinal approach, with the goal of validating reports of PTG in soldiers. Data were collected from National Guard soldiers at pre-deployment, reintegration, one year post-deployment and two years post-deployment. Informed by PTG theory, three PTG constructs were measured (perceived ability to handle stress, social support seeking, and purpose in life) at each of the four time points, with increases in these constructs indicating growth. Potential predictors of growth in these PTG constructs were also explored. Results from a repeated measure latent profile analysis indicated that PTG did occur in certain soldiers, and that higher optimism and less severe PTSD symptoms predict this growth. These findings emphasize the importance of making efforts to facilitate PTG in soldiers.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

Article
REACH Publication
Featured Research

Author Affiliation:

Michigan Public Health Institute, AMF
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, AJB
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, RPB
Michigan Public Health Institute, LGU
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, MK
Michigan Public Health Institute, DG

Keywords:

deployment, Military, posttraumatic growth, resilience

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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