A Longitudinal Study of Secondary Posttraumatic Growth in Wives of Ex-POWs

Talya Greene, Yael Lahav, Yaniv Kanat-Maymon, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The current study aimed to investigate (a) "secondary" posttraumatic growth (PTG) in wives of former prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and its association to husbands' captivity, husbands' posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and husbands' PTSD trajectories; and (b) the bidirectional relationships over time between wives' posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and PTG.

METHOD: The study compared 116 wives of Israeli ex-POWs from the 1973 Yom Kippur War with 56 wives of a matched control group of non-POW combat veterans. Wives were divided into groups according to husbands' captivity status, husbands' PTSD status, and husbands' PTSD trajectories; and ANOVAs and MANOVAs were conducted to assess group differences in PTSS and PTG, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Autoregressive cross-lag modeling was also used to assess bidirectional relationships between wives' PTSS and PTG over time.

RESULTS: Wives of ex-POWs with PTSD reported significantly higher PTG compared with wives of ex-POWs without PTSD and wives of controls. While PTG and PTSS remained stable over time, importantly, the Time 1 (T1) level of PTG predicted avoidance symptoms at Time 2 (T2); the higher the wives' PTG at T1, the higher their avoidance symptoms at T2, but not vice versa.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the notion that "secondary PTG" exists. They also strengthen the theory that growth and distress can co-occur. Finally, the finding that PTG predicted subsequent avoidance symptoms suggests that PTG does not prevent the future development of distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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