Nearly half of United States military vets surveyed in a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported posttraumatic growth (PTG) from the COVID-19 pandemic, including appreciation of life, relating to others and personal strength. This is compared to 12.8% who screen positive for COVID-19-associated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
The study used data from a sample of US veterans who participated in the 2019-2020 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Of the 7,860 that completed the survey, 3,078 completed a 1-year follow-up survey in late 2020. Those participants received a short version of the of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory to assess PTG from COVID-19.
Of the 3,078 veterans who completed the follow-up survey, 12.8% screened positive for COVID-19-associated PTSD. Out of that same group, 43.3% said they experienced “moderate or greater” levels of COVID-19-associated PTG. However, those who screen positive for PTSD were more likely than those who screened negative to endorse all aspects of PTG (71.9 vs 39.1%).
Limitations of the study include its cross-sectional design and the use of self-reporting to assess PTSD and PTG.
The study results “underscores the importance of evaluating PTG-promoting interventions as part of suicide risk prevention and treatment efforts in veterans,” the researchers concluded.
Pietrzak RH, Tsai J, Southwick SM. Association of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder with posttraumatic psychological growth among US veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(4):e214972. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.4972