Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Jean Rhodes

Second Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Third Advisor

Alice S. Carter


Objective: This study aimed to examine the validity of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995) through analysis of the relationships between retrospectively self-reported PTGI subscales and measured pre- to post-traumatic changes in self-reported assessments of constructs deemed analogous to these PTGI subscales -- including social support, perceived stress, sense of purpose in life, goal orientation and religiosity. Posttraumatic self-esteem, optimism, psychological distress, and posttraumatic stress were examined as possible moderators of these relationships.

Method: Participants were low-income mothers (82.0% of whom identified as non-Hispanic Black) who survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Participants completed surveys in the year before Katrina (Time 1; T1) and one and three years post-Katrina (Time 2; T2 and Time 3; T3). PTG was assessed at T3, while other measures were assessed at T1 and at either T2 or T3, or at all three timepoints.

Results: Consistent with expectations, hierarchical regression models found that pre- (T1) to post- (T3) traumatic changes in perceived social support significantly predicted the PTGI subscale Relating to Others. Pre- to post-traumatic changes in sense of purpose in life and perceived stress significantly predicted the PTGI subscales New Possibilities and Personal Strength. Changes in goal orientation predicted the PTGI subscale Appreciation for Life, and changes in the religious variables predicted the PTGI subscale Spiritual Change. T2 self-esteem moderated the relationship between pre- to post-traumatic changes in perceived stress and the PTGI subscale Personal Strength, such that at higher levels of the perceived stress change score (i.e., greater increases in perceived stress), participants with lower self-esteem had lower PTGI Personal Strength scores than those with higher self-esteem. At lower levels of perceived stress change score, self-esteem had little influence on the PTGI. All other relationships between analogous constructs and PTGI subscales were non-significant, as were interaction effects other than that of self-esteem.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate a link between some positive pre- to post-traumatic psychological changes measured over time and the PTGI, suggesting that further research into the possibility of facilitating PTG after natural disasters and other trauma may be warranted.


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