Longitudinal Development of Primary and Secondary Posttraumatic Growth in Aging Veterans and Their Wives: Domain-Specific Trajectories

Rahel Bachem, Saskia Mitreuter, Yafit Levin, Jacob Y. Stein, Zhou Xiao, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Posttraumatic growth (PTG), the positive psychological transformations that follow traumatic events, affects both direct survivors (primary PTG) and their significant others (secondary PTG). Though primary and secondary PTG have been widely investigated in the literature, their long-term trajectories decades after a traumatic event, especially as survivors enter older age, remain largely uninvestigated. Furthermore, it remains contested whether PTG adds up to a monolithic construct or rather consists of relatively independent components. Addressing these issues, we assessed a sample of Israeli male veterans from the 1973 Yom Kippur war (N = 349) and their wives (N = 156) at three time points over the course of nearly three decades. Both the veterans (primary survivors) and their wives (secondary survivors) reported PTG relating to the veterans' experiences during the war and/or captivity. Latent growth mixture modeling was conducted to identify trajectories of PTG on the five subscales of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. Long-term trajectories of PTG followed heterogeneous patterns of fluctuation over time and particularly as participants entered older age. On most subscales, decreasing PTG scores were evident, a trend that was more pronounced among the primary survivors than the secondary survivors as primary and secondary PTG fluctuate considerably in the long-term and seem to decrease as individuals enter older age. Furthermore, it would seem that PTG should not be considered a holistic concept but rather a conglomeration of positive changes. Implications of the findings are discussed within the context of limitations and potential intervening factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-741
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


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