Objectives: Social media provides an opportunity to engage in social contact and to give and receive help by means of online social networks. Social support following trauma exposure, even in a virtual community, may reduce feelings of helplessness and isolation, and, therefore, reduce posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS), and increase posttraumatic growth (PTG). The current study aimed to assess whether giving and/or receiving offers of help by means of social media following large community fires predicted PTS and/or PTG. Methods: A convenience sample of 212 adults living in communities that were affected by large-scale community fires in Israel (November 2016) completed questionnaires on giving and receiving offers of help by means of social media within 1 mo of the fire (W1), and the PTSD checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and PTG questionnaire (PTGI-SF), 4 mo after the fire (W2). Results: Regression analyses showed that, after controlling for age, gender, and distance from fire, offering help by means of social media predicted higher PTG (β = 0.22; t = 3.18; P < 0.01), as did receiving offers of help by means of social media (β = 0.18; t = 2.64; P < 0.01). There were no significant associations between giving and/or receiving offers of help and PTS. Conclusions: Connecting people to social media networks may help in promoting posttraumatic growth, although might not impact on posttraumatic symptoms. This is one of the first studies to highlight empirically the advantages of social media in the aftermath of trauma exposure.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc..
- posttraumatic growth
- posttraumatic stress
- social media
- Social Support
- Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/epidemiology
- Social Media/statistics & numerical data
- Posttraumatic Growth, Psychological
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health