Method: Questionnaires were completed by 195 Israeli students (age M=23.76, SD=3.31, 120 males and 75 females), during the Al-Aqsa Intifada (the second Palestinian Uprising) in July-August 2004. The battery included the Objective Exposure Questionnaire, Subjective Exposure Questionnaire, PTSD Inventory, General Health Questionnaire (G.H.Q 28) and the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses and path analyses were used to examine the contribution of levels of exposure to distress and to PTG, as well as the contribution of PTSD to PTG.
Results: All participants had been exposed either directly or indirectly (through family or friends) to terror. The results indicated that subjective exposure contributed to distress and PTG. In accordance with the study's hypothesis, higher levels of subjective exposure contributed to higher levels of distress and PTG. In addition, the findings indicated that post-traumatic symptoms contribute to higher levels of PTG. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses and path analyses suggested that an indirect association exists between subjective exposure and PTG mediated by PTSD. Thus, higher levels of subjective exposure lead to higher levels of PTSD, which is directly related to PTG.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings support the importance of criteria A1 in assessing subjective exposure to traumatic events and its contribution to distress and to post-traumatic growth. In addition, the current study highlights the role of emotional suffering in inducing growth. These findings may encourage clinicians to provide hope for the survivors' future, by offering the growth perspective without minimizing the negative effect of the trauma.