Posttraumatic growth among children and adolescents: a systematic review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Aug;31(6):949-64. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.06.003. Epub 2011 Jun 13.


Stress and trauma research has traditionally focused on negative sequelae of adversity. Recently, research has begun to focus on positive outcomes, specifically posttraumatic growth (PTG) - "positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with trauma" - which emphasizes the transformative potential of one's experiences with highly stressful events and circumstances. The positive changes of PTG are generally thought to occur in five domains: new possibilities, relating to others, personal strength, appreciation of life, and spiritual change. The study of PTG has, for the most part, been centered on adults, and not until very recently has there been sufficient research on PTG among children and adolescents to justify a review. The current systematic review of the literature on PTG among children and adolescents included 25 studies that tested associations between PTG and conceptually-relevant variables found to be associated with PTG in adults and hypothesized to play similar roles in young people, including environmental characteristics, distress responses, social processes, psychological processes, positive outcomes, and demographic variables. Links were made between a theoretical model of PTG among youth and findings of the current review. Limitations and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*