World trade center exposure and posttraumatic growth: Assessing positive psychological change 15 years after 9/11

Cristina D. Pollari, Jennifer Brite, Robert M. Brackbill, Lisa M. Gargano, Shane W. Adams, Pninit Russo-Netzer, Jonathan Davidov, Victoria Banyard, James E. Cone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluated the presence of posttraumatic growth (PTG) among survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack and how indicators of psychosocial well-being, direct 9/11-related exposure, and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) relate to PTG. PTG was examined among 4934 participants using the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to determine if the original factor structure of the PTGI fits our data and principal component analysis (PCA) to identify the appropriate factor structure. Multivariable linear regression models were used to examine the association between PTG and indicators of psychosocial well-being, 9/11-related exposure, and PTSS, controlling for covariates. CFA identified a two-factor structure of the PTGI as a better fit than the original five-factor model. Participants who experienced very high 9/11-related exposure level (ß = 7.72; 95% CI: 5.75–9.70), higher PTSS at waves 1 (ß = 0.13; 95% CI: 0.08-0.18) and 2 (ß = 0.09; 95% CI: 0.05–0.14), high social integration (ß = 5.71; 95% CI: 4.47, 6.96), greater social support (ß = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.37, 0.61), and higher self-efficacy(ß = 1.26; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.48) had higher PTGI scores. Our findings suggest PTG is present, 15 years following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Very high-level 9/11 exposure, PTSS, and indicators of psychosocial well-being were associated with PTG.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • 9/11
  • Disaster
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Well-being
  • World Trade Center

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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