Posttraumatic Growth in Bereaved Parents: A Multidimensional Model of Associated Factors

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Abstract

Objective: Although the death of a child is a devastating event, recent evidence shows that personal growth is a relevant outcome of parents’ grief. This study aimed to examine the factors associated with posttraumatic growth (PTG) and to propose a multidimensional model consisting of sociodemographic, situational, and intrapersonal and interpersonal factors. Method: A sample (N = 197; 89.8% female; mean age = 39.44 years) of bereaved parents completed the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory-Short Form, the 14-Item Resilience Scale, the Continuing Bonds Scale, and the Dyadic Coping Inventory. Results: The final model consisted of sociodemographic, situational, intrapersonal, and interpersonal factors of PTG, which accounted for 36.7% of the variance. Higher levels of PTG were generally associated with female sex, younger age of the child, higher levels of resilience, higher levels of internalized continuing bonds (i.e., internal representation of the child, maintaining psychological proximity), and higher levels of stress communication by the partner (communicating the stress experience and requesting emotional or practical support). Conclusions: In clinical practice, health professionals assisting bereaved parents should pay attention to men and parents of older children, who might be at higher risk of difficulties in developing PTG. Additionally, promoting a more internalized bond with the child, resilience and dyadic coping, especially stress communication, can constitute important therapeutic goals.

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