Posttraumatic positive changes among parents who have experienced the loss of a child – the role of social support
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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.

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