Posttraumatic positive changes among parents who have experienced the loss of a child – the role of social support
More details
Hide details
Submission date: 2017-02-15
Final revision date: 2017-04-07
Acceptance date: 2017-08-19
Online publication date: 2017-12-27
Publication date: 2017-12-27
Health Psychology Report 2018;6(2):118-125
In addition to a number of negative consequences, the trauma associated with the loss of a child may also entail the development of positive changes in psychosocial functioning, manifested as posttraumatic growth. An important factor that promotes posttraumatic growth is social support. The aim of the study was to determine the relationship between social support and the occurrence of positive posttraumatic changes resulting from trauma associated with the loss of a child.

Participants and procedure:
The study analysed a group of 76 persons who reported that the loss of a child (including perinatal and postnatal) was a traumatic event. The majority of respondents were women (55.30%). The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 62 years (M = 35.88, SD = 9.52). The following Polish versions of standardized tools were used: the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, the Significant Others Scale to measure social support, and the visual analogue scale to assess the intensity of the trauma.

The subjects revealed positive changes in all spheres of posttraumatic growth following the loss of a child, greater in the group of people who lost their child after birth. A positive relationship was found between almost all types of analysed social support (except for desired emotional support) and posttraumatic growth. The regression analysis revealed that received practical support fulfils the primary predictive role for posttraumatic growth.

The use of the assistance of others by persons who have experienced trauma may contribute to the occurrence of growth after trauma.

Armstrong, D. S., Hutti, M. H., & Myers, J. (2009). The influence of prior perinatal loss on parents’ psychological distress after birth of a subsequent healthy infant. Journal of Obstretic, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 38, 654–666.
Black, B. P., & Wright, P. (2012). Posttraumatic growth and transformation as outcomes of perinatal loss. Illness, Crisis and Loss, 20, 225–237.
Brier, N. (2008). Grief following miscarriage: A comprehensive review of the literature. Journal of Women’s Health, 17, 451–464.
Büchi, S., Mörgeli, H., Schnyder, U., Jenwein, J., Glaser, A., Fauchere, J. C., Bucher, H., & Sensky, T. (2009). Shared or discordant grief in couples 2-6 years after the death of their premature baby: Effects on suffering and posttraumatic growth. Psychosomatics, 50, 123–130.
Büchi, S., Mörgeli, H., Schnyder, U., Jenewein, J., Hepp, U., Jina, ...Sensky, T. (2007). Grief and posttraumatic growth in parents 2-6 years after the death of their extremely premature baby. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 76, 106–114.
Cadell, S., Regehr, C., & Hemsworth, D. (2003). Factors contributing to posttraumatic growth: A proposed structure equation model. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73, 279–287.
Calhoun, L. G., Cann, A., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2010a). The posttraumatic growth model: Sociocultural considerations. In T. Weiss & R. Berger (eds.), Posttraumatic growth and culturally competent practice (pp. 1–14). New Jersey, John Wiley.
Calhoun, L. G., Tedeschi, R. G., Cann, A., & Hanks, E. (2010b). Positive outcomes following bereavement – paths to posttraumatic growth. Psychologica Belgica, 50, 125–143.
Cieslak, R., Benight, C., Schmidt, N., Luszczynska, A., Curtin, E., Clark, R., & Kissinger, P. (2009). Predicting posttraumatic growth among Hurricane survivors living with HIV: the role of self-efficacy, social support, and PTSD symptoms. Anxiety Stress and Coping, 22, 449–463.
Engelkemeyer, S. M., & Marwit, S. (2008). Posttraumatic growth in bereaved parents. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21, 344–346.
Hogan, N. S., & Schmidt, L. A (2002). Testing the grief to personal growth using structural equation modeling. Death Studies, 26, 615–63.
Juczyński, Z. (2014). Pomiar wsparcia społecznego – polska adaptacja Skali Znaczenia Innych [Measurement of social support – Polish adaptation of the Significant Others Scale]. In E. Zasępa & T. Gałkowski (eds.), Oblicza psychologii klinicznej [Faces of clinical psychology] (pp. 437–458). Sopot: GWP.
Kaltman, S., & Bonanno, G. (2003). Trauma and bereavement: Examining the impact of sudden and violent deaths. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 17, 131–147.
Kim, S. H., Kjervik, D., Belyea, M., & Choi, E. S. (2011). Personal strength and winding meaning in conjugally bereaved older adults: A four-year prospective analysis. Death Studies, 35, 197–218.
Lichtenthal, W. G., Currier, J. M., Neimeyer, R. A., & Keesee, N. J. (2010). Sense and significance: A mixed methods examination of meaning making after loss of one’s child. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 66, 791–812.
Lichtenthal, W. G., Neimeyer, R. A., Currier, J. M., Roberts, K., & Jordan, N. (2013). Cause of death and the quest for meaning after the loss of a child. Death Studies, 37, 311–342. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2012.673533.
Lelorain, S., Tessier, P., Florin, A., & Bonnaud-Antignac, A. (2012). Posttraumatic growth in long term breast cancer survivors: relation to coping, social support and cognitive processing. Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 627–639.
Martincekova, L., & Klatt, J. (2016). Mother’s grief, forgiveness and posttraumatic growth after the loss of a child. Omega – Journal of Death and Dying. doi: 10.1177/0030222816652803.
Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning as discource. Journal of Transformative Education, 1, 58–63.
Nenova, M., DuHamel, K., Zenon, V., Rini, C., & Redd, W. H. (2013). Posttraumatic growth, social support, and social constraint in hematopoietic sten cell transplant survivors. Psychooncology, 22, 195–202.
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2013a). The role of social support in people struggling with cancer. Health Psychology Report, 1, 1–8.
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2013b). Negative and positive effects of traumatic experiences in a group of emergency service workers – the role of personal and social resources. Medycyna Pracy, 64, 463–472.
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2016). Negatywne i pozytywne następstwa doświadczonej traumy – rola ruminacji [Negative and positive effects of the experienced trauma – the role of of rumination]. Psychiatria i Psychologia Kliniczna, 16, 182–187.
Ogińska-Bulik, N., & Juczyński, Z. (2010). Rozwój potraumatyczny – charakterystyka i pomiar [Posttraumatic growth – characteristic and measurement]. Psychiatria, 7, 129–142.
Pan, X., Liu, J., Li, L., & Kwok, J. (2016). Posttraumatic growth in aging individuals who have lost the only child in China. Death Studies, 40, 395–404. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0748....
Polatinsky, S., & Esprey, Y. (2000). An assessment of gender differences in the perception of benefit resulting from the loss of a child. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 13, 709–718.
Schroevers, M. J., Helgeson, V. S., Sanderman, R., & Ranchor, A. V. (2010). Type of social support matters for prediction of posttraumatic growth among cancer patients. Psychooncology, 19, 46–53.
Sęk, H., & Cieślak, R. (2004). Wsparcie społeczne – sposoby definiowania, rodzaje i źródła wsparcia, wybrane koncepcje teoretyczne [Social support, ways of defining, types and sources of support]. In H. Sęk & R. Cieślak (eds.), Wsparcie społeczne, stres i zdrowie [Social support, stress and health] (pp. 11–28). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.
Sheik, A. I. (2004). Posttraumatic growth in the context of heart disease. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 11, 265–273.
Stankiewicz, K. (2015). Rodzina wobec śmierci dziecka. Żałoba, kryzys, wsparcie społeczne [A family and a death of a child. Bereavement and social support]. Paedagogia Christiana, 36. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/PCh....
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1996). The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory: Measuring the positive legacy of trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9, 455–471.
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 1–8.
Thomadaki, O. (2012). How mothers experience personal growth after perinatal loss. Unpublished doctoral thesis, City University, London. Retrieved from http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/3....
Znoj, H. J. (2006). Bereavement and posttraumatic growth. In L. Calhoun & R. Tedeschi (eds.), Handbook of posttraumatic growth: Research and Practice (pp. 176–196). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.
Copyright: © Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk This is an Open Access journal, all articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top