Latent classes of posttraumatic stress and growth

Birkeland, M. S., Hafstad, G. S., Blix, I., & Heir, T. (2015). Latent classes of posttraumatic stress and growth. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 28(3), 272-286. doi:10.1080/10615806.2014.956097

Potentially traumatic events may lead to different patterns of posttraumatic stress symptoms and posttraumatic growth. The objective of the present study was to identify subgroups with different patterns of posttraumatic reactions, and to determine whether these subgroups differed in terms of personal and social resources and indicators of adjustment.

This study used survey data collected 10 months after the 2011 Oslo bombing attack to investigate patterns of reactions among ministerial employees (N = 1970).

Methods: We applied latent class analyses with covariates to extract subgroups of individuals.

Results: Three classes of individual reactions were extracted, and these were similar among those who were and those who were not physically proximate to the bombing attack:

  • “High stress/high growth” (27% and 11%, respectively),
  • “Low stress/high growth” (74% and 42%, respectively),
  • “Low stress/low growth” (only among the not physically proximate: 47%).

The classes differed in terms of gender, neuroticism, and social support as well as life satisfaction and daily functioning.

Conclusions: Heterogeneous patterns of posttraumatic reactions were found. Physical proximity is not necessary to experience posttraumatic stress or growth after political violence. Among individuals with low stress, posttraumatic growth may not encompass higher life satisfaction or functioning.