The role of social support in contributing to posttraumatic growth in persons with vision impairment
More details
Hide details
Salesian Pontifical University, Rome, Italy
Submission date: 2020-04-08
Final revision date: 2020-05-15
Acceptance date: 2020-06-03
Online publication date: 2020-07-03
Publication date: 2020-07-03
Health Psychology Report 2020;8(3):238–247
Some individuals report transformational growth understood as lasting positive changes following adverse ex-periences. Recently psychological research has attempted to understand the complex relationship between adversity and subsequent growth. In 1995 Tedeschi and Calhoun coined the term “posttraumatic growth” (PTG), which is also termed “adversarial growth” by Linley and Joseph. PTG has become a leading area of research, striving for a balanced positive psychology that integrates the complexity between the negatives and positives to optimise positive outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to elucidate the role of social support in contributing to PTG in three study cases.

Participants and procedure:
The qualitative approach was based on semi-structured interviews with three women over 50 who lost vision when they were 18, 25 and 43 years old. Two of the participants were Polish, and one was Australian. The Eco-logical Systems Theory (EST) of Bronfenbrenner was used to demonstrate changes, as its process-person-context model permits this investigation.

This study revealed that social support contributed to the PTG experienced after vision loss in the cases studied. Participants stressed that the received social support enhanced their gratitude and helped them grow in many unexpected ways. The relation characterised by the synergy between social support, gratitude and growth has been suggested by the participants.

The trajectories of PTG in these studies varied and were influenced by individual resources and the socio-cultural contexts of the participants.

Adamczyk, K. (2013). Development and validation of the Polish-language version of the Multidimen-sional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS). International Review of Social Psychology, 26, 25–48.
Aldwin, C. M. (1994). Transformational coping. In C. M. Aldwin (Ed.), Stress, coping, and development (pp. 240–269). New York: Guilford.
Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13, 544–559.
Boerner, K., & Wang, S. W. (2010). How it matters when it happens: Life changes related to functional loss in younger and older adults. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 70, 163–179. https://doi.org/10.2190/AG.70.....
Boerner, K., Wang, S. W., & Cimarolli, V. R. (2006). The impact of functional loss: Nature and implica-tions of life changes. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 11, 265–287. https://doi.org/10.1080/153250....
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA, London: Harvard University Press.
Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (6th ed., pp. 793–828). New York: Wiley.
Brunes, A., Hansen, M. B., & Heir, T. (2018). Post-traumatic stress reactions among individuals with visual impairments: a systematic review. Disability and Rehabilitation, 41, 2111–2118. https://doi.org/10.1080/096382....
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (1991). Perceiving benefits in traumatic events: Some issues for practicing psychologists. The Journal of Training and Practice in Professional Psychology, 5, 45–52.
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2004). The foundations of posttraumatic growth: New considera-tions. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 93–102.
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2006). The foundations of posttraumatic growth: an expanded framework. In L. G. Calhoun & R. G. Tedeschi (Eds.), Handbook of posttraumatic growth: Research and practice (pp. 3–23). Mahwah, NJ, London: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2013). Posttraumatic growth in clinical practice. New York: Routledge.
Carter, N., Bryant-Lukosius, D., DiCenso, A., Blythe, J., & Neville, A. J. (2014). The use of triangula-tion in qualitative research. Oncology Nursing Forum, 41, 545–547. https://doi.org/10.1188/14.ONF....
Colenbrander, A. (2010). Assessment of functional vision and its rehabilitation. Acta Ophthalmologica, 88, 163–173. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755....
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Frankl, V. E. (1997). Man’s search for meaning. London: Pocket Books.
Hancock, D. R., & Algozzine, R. (2006). Doing case study research: a practical guide for beginning re-searchers. New York: Teachers College Press.
Helgeson, V. S., Reynolds, K. A., & Tomich, P. L. (2006). A meta-analytic review of benefit finding and growth. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 797–816. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0....
Hobfoll, S. E., Hall, B. J., Canetti-Nisim, D., Galea, S., Johnson, R. J., & Palmieri, P. A. (2007). Refin-ing our understanding of traumatic growth in the face of terrorism: Moving from meaning cogni-tions to doing what is meaningful. Applied Psychology, 56, 345–366. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464....
Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: Towards a new psychology of trauma. New York: Free Press.
Joseph, S. (2009). Growth following adversity: Positive psychological perspectives on posttraumatic stress. Psychological Topics, 18, 335–344.
Joseph, S. (2011). What doesn’t kill us: The new psychology of posttraumatic growth. London: Piatkus.
Joseph, S. (2019). Posttraumatic growth as a process and an outcome: Vexing problems and para-doxes seen from the perspective of humanistic psychology. The Humanistic Psychologist. Ad-vance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/hum000....
Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2005). Positive adjustment to threatening events: an organismic valuing theory of growth through adversity. Review of General Psychology, 9, 262–280. https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2....
Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2008). Positive psychological perspectives on posttraumatic stress: an integrative psychological framework. In S. Joseph & P. A. Linley (Eds.), Trauma, recovery, and growth: Positive psychological perspectives on posttraumatic stress (pp. 3–20). Hoboken, NJ, Chichester: Wiley.
Joseph, S., Maltby, J., Wood, A. M., Stockton, H., Hunt, N., & Regel, S. (2012). The Psychological Well-Being – Post-Traumatic Changes Questionnaire (PWB-PTCQ): Reliability and validity. Psycho-logical Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4, 420–428. https://doi.org/10.1037/a00247....
Juczyński, Z., & Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2012). In spite of adversity – posttraumatic growth in the aftermath of experienced negative life events. In J. Binnenbesel, Z. Formella, P. Krakowiak, & Z. Domzał (Eds.), Experiencing suffering (pp. 301–319). Roma-Lodz: Libreria Ateneo Salesiano & Wydawnictwo WSEZiNS.
Linley, P. A. (2003). Positive adaptation to trauma: Wisdom as both process and outcome. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 601–610. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOTS....
Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2004). Positive change following trauma and adversity: a review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17, 11–21. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOTS....
Morris, B. A., Shakespeare-Finch, J., Rieck, M., & Newbery, J. (2005). Multidimensional nature of posttraumatic growth in an Australian population. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18, 575–585. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20....
Morris, B. A., Shakespeare-Finch, J., & Scott, J. L. (2012). Posttraumatic growth after cancer: The importance of health-related benefits and newfound compassion for others. Supportive Care in Cancer, 20, 749–756. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520....
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2013). The role of social support in posttraumatic growth in people struggling with cancer. Health Psychology Report, 1, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.5114/hpr.20....
Ogińska-Bulik, N., & Juczyński, Z. (2010). Rozwój potraumatyczny – charakterystyka i pomiar [Post-traumatic growth – characteristic and measurement]. Psychiatria, 7, 129–142.
O’Leary, V. E., & Ickovics, J. R. (1995). Resilience and thriving in response to challenge: an oppor-tunity for a paradigm shift in women’s health. Women’s Health, 1, 121–142.
Park, C. L., Cohen, L. H., & Murch, R. L. (1996). Assessment and prediction of stress-related growth. Journal of Personality, 64, 71–105. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467....
Pascolini, D., & Mariotti, S. P. (2012). Global estimates of visual impairment: 2010. The British Journal of Ophthalmology, 96, 614–618. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjopht....
Prati, G., & Pietrantoni, L. (2009). Optimism, social support, and coping strategies as factors contrib-uting to posttraumatic growth: a meta-analysis. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 14, 364–388. https://doi.org/10.1080/153250....
Senra, H., Barbosa, F., Ferreira, P., Vieira, C. R., Perrin, P. B., Rogers, H., Rivera, D., & Leal, I. (2015). Psychologic adjustment to irreversible vision loss in adults: a systematic review. Ophthal-mology, 122, 851–861. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.opht....
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1996). The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory: Measuring the positive legacy of trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9, 455–471. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF0210....
Tedeschi, R. G., & Moore, B. A. (2016). The posttraumatic growth workbook: Coming through trauma wiser, stronger, and more resilient. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Tedeschi, R. G., Park, C. L., & Calhoun, L. G. (1998). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual issues. In R. G. Tedeschi, C. L. Park, & L. G. Calhoun (Eds.), The LEA series in personality and clinical psy-chology. Posttraumatic growth: Positive changes in the aftermath of crisis (pp. 1–22). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Tedeschi, R. G., Shakespeare-Finch, J., Taku, K., & Calhoun, L. G. (2018). Posttraumatic growth: The-ory, research and applications. London: Routledge.
Vishnevsky, T., Cann, A., Calhoun, L. G., Tedeschi, R. G., & Demakis, G. J. (2010). Gender differ-ences in self-reported posttraumatic growth: a meta-analysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 111–120.
Wong, P. T. P. (2011). Positive psychology 2.0: Towards a balanced interactive model of the good life. Canadian Psychology, 52, 69–81. https://doi.org/10.1037/a00225....
Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 1076–1093. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2....
Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the de-velopment of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 854–871. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.....
World Health Organization (2016). International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Retrieved from https://icd.who.int/browse10/2....
Yalom, I. D., & Lieberman, M. A. (1991). Bereavement and heightened existential awareness. Psychia-try: Interpersonal and Biological Processes, 54, 334–345. https://doi.org/10.1080/003327....
Zimet, G. D., Dahlem, N. W., Zimet, S. Z., & Farley, G. K. (1988). The Multidimensional Scale of Per-ceived Social Support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 30–41. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327....
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.