Examining Posttraumatic Growth and Mental Health Difficulties in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
© 2018 American Psychological Association. Objective: Hurricane Sandy continues to affect the mental health of New York residents. This study examined associations between Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) and mental health difficulties (MHD) including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Method: Participants (N = 1,356) recruited from the New York metropolitan area completed questionnaires regarding their PTG, demographics, MHD, and hurricane experiences. A weighted least squares regression assessed the association between MHD and PTG. A post hoc analysis determined whether anxiety or depression moderated the effect of PTSD on PTG. Results: All MHD were crudely associated with greater PTG. After adjustment, an increased PTSD score was significantly associated with a 0.20 unit increase in PTG (t = 6.05, p < .001); this did not hold for depression or anxiety symptoms. Higher PTG was associated with being non-White (B = 5.90, t = 6.49, p < .001), Hispanic (B = 3.38, t = 2.89, p = .004), a smoker (B = 3.18, t = 3.28, p = .001), and greater Hurricane Sandy exposure (t = 7.11, p < .001). The positive association between PTSD symptoms and PTG was weaker among participants with probable depression. Conclusion: Results suggest that participants with higher PTSD symptoms were more likely to grow from the impact of the storm, indicating resilience. Highly exposed participants were more likely to experience PTG. A decrease in PTG was found among those with both PTSD and depression symptoms. The development and implementation of interventions fostering PTG could be beneficial in clinical disaster response work.
Faculty; Northwell Researcher
School of Medicine; Northwell Health
Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention
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