Posttraumatic growth after earthquake trauma is predicted by executive functions: a pilot study

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2014 Dec;202(12):859-63. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000211.


Although positive personal change after adverse events (posttraumatic growth [PTG]) is repeatedly shown to occur after a range of traumatic or distressing events, there is still a debate on the validity of the concept. Using the objective measurement of cognitive functions, we attempted to show that PTG is a scientifically valid construct in a group of earthquake survivors. This is the first study to associate PTG with cognitive functioning. We found that growth was predicted by executive functions and not by memory or processing speed, showing that the correlation between cognitive functions and growth is a specific one. In addition, a specific form of PTG, namely personal growth, was related to cognitive functions, whereas relational growth was not. Our findings provide support for the validity of the PTG concept.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Disasters
  • Earthquakes
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Human Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Young Adult