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What doesn't kill you makes you stronger: A national study of U.S. military veterans.

Tsai J, Mota NP, Southwick SM, Pietrzak RH. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger: A national study of U.S. military veterans. Journal of affective disorders. 2016 Jan 1; 189:269-71.

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BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is commonly observed among trauma survivors. However, few studies have treated PTG as multi-dimensional and examined how different PTG dimensions may be protective against the negative effects of future trauma. METHODS: Using a nationally representative web-based survey of 1057 U.S. military veterans followed for two years, we examined whether different PTG dimensions had a protective effect on the severity and diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the face of new traumatic life events. RESULTS: Greater scores on the Personal Strength domain of the PTG Inventory-Short Form at baseline was associated with reduced severity (ß = -.05, p < .05) and incidence (OR = .68, 95% CI = .50-.93) of PTSD at a two-year follow-up. LIMITATIONS: Results are associational and causality cannot be inferred so replication is needed. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the multi-dimensional nature of PTG and demonstrates a salubrious effect of trauma-related gains in personal strength on incident PTSD.

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