The interaction of post-traumatic growth and post-traumatic stress symptoms in predicting depressive symptoms and quality of life.

Psycho-oncology

PubMedID: 18213677

Morrill EF, Brewer NT, O'Neill SC, Lillie SE, Dees EC, Carey LA, Rimer BK. The interaction of post-traumatic growth and post-traumatic stress symptoms in predicting depressive symptoms and quality of life. Psychooncology. 2008;17(9):948-53.
OBJECTIVE
We sought to explore whether post-traumatic growth (PTG) (positive change or benefit finding resulting from trauma) moderates relationships between post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and both depression and quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer survivors.

METHODS
We interviewed 161 women previously treated for early stage breast cancer. We assessed PTG using the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory, PTSS using the PTSD Checklist, depressive symptoms using the CES-D and QOL using the FACT-B.

RESULTS
Higher PTSS was associated with greater depressive symptoms and lower QOL (p<0.01). The relationship between PTSS and depression was attenuated among women with higher levels of PTG (PTSS x PTG interaction, p<0.05). The same pattern of results was found for QOL (interaction p<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS
We report the novel finding that PTG moderated relationships between PTSS and both depression and QOL. We speculate that finding positive meaning in response to a distressing event, such as diagnosis of cancer, may be psychologically protective and could indirectly influence the long-term occurrence of depressive symptoms and impaired QOL.