Post-traumatic growth of children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and their attitudes to memorial services and media coverage

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Abstract

Aims:

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to positive changes that result from coping with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Factors influencing PTG in youth have not been well characterized but could have a great impact on overall maturation.

Methods:

Fourth to ninth graders (n = 3337) attending elementary or junior high schools located in a district severely damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake completed a questionnaire, including the revised Posttraumatic Growth Inventory for Children (PTGI-C-R) along with the Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms for Children 15 items (PTSSC-15), 31 months after the event. Experience of the disaster, prior traumatic experiences, and attitudes toward memories of the disaster (rumination) were scored by their caregivers and teachers, and effects of these factors on PTG were evaluated.

Results:

There were no significant associations between PTGI-C-R and sex or experiences of the disaster. However, PTGI-C-R was negatively correlated with age (r = −0.132, P < 0.001). There was significant but very weak negative correlation between PTGI-C-R and PTSSC-15 among the children (r = −0.096, P < 0.001). PTGI-C-R was significantly associated with positive attitudes to memorial services (P < 0.001) and media coverage (P < 0.05).

Conclusion:

Positive attitudes to deliberate rumination may facilitate PTG in children following natural disasters.

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