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Combat Exposure, Unit Cohesion, and Demographic Characteristics of Soldiers Reporting Posttraumatic Growth

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Posttraumatic growth (PTG) refers to the positive cognitive, spiritual, emotional, and social changes that can occur after a traumatic experience. The current study uses data from 1,663 soldiers who participated in a voluntary survey 6 months after redeployment. The purpose of this study was to predict posttraumatic growth from combat exposure, unit cohesion, and demographic characteristics. We found that greater combat exposure and stronger unit cohesion were associated with more PTG. Being married, a minority, and a junior enlisted soldier were also predictive of greater PTG. Our study defines a group of soldiers with low PTG who are at risk for adverse psychosocial problems. Our results suggest that unit cohesion could be targeted and strengthened to improve PTG.
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Keywords: posttraumatic growth; social support; soldiers; unit cohesion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Behavioral and Social Health Outcomes Program, Directorate of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, Army Institute of Public Health, Aberdeen, Maryland, USA 2: National Capital Consortium Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency Program, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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