The prevalence of moderate-to-high posttraumatic growth: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Affect Disord. 2019 Jan 15;243:408-415. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.023. Epub 2018 Sep 12.


Background: Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is positive psychological changes after encountering challenging events. The main purpose of this meta-analysis was to summarize the prevalence of moderate-to-high PTG in people who experienced traumatic events and to understand what social-demographic and trauma characteristics distinguish those who show a high rate of PTG from those of low level.

Methods: Six electronic databases were searched. Loney's appraisal criteria were used to evaluate the quality of studies. Freeman-Turkey double arcsine transformation method was used to calculate the combined prevalence. Age, time since event, type of trauma and trauma form were analyzed as subgroup factors. According to the source of the trauma, the type of trauma was divided into three different categories: disease, accident and specific profession. Specific profession refers to firefighters, veterans, intensive care staff, etc. The complex working environment, irregular lifestyle, various unpredictable factors, as well as the frequently adverse stimuli from others contribute to great physical and mental pressure.

Results: Twenty-six articles were deemed as qualified for this systematic review and meta-analysis. The level of PTG across studies ranged from 10% to 77.3%, and heterogeneity tests showed high heterogeneity (I2 = 92.3%, 95%CI = 90.1%-94.0%, p < 0.01). Random effect model was chosen to calculate the combined prevalence and the prevalence was 52.58% (95%CI = 48.66%-56.48%). People whose age was younger than 60,had shorter time since trauma,worked in a specific profession and suffered from direct trauma reported high rate of moderate-to-high PTG.

Limitations: Because the included studies haven't provided adequate PTG-related information, these factors could not be used to performed subgroup analyses. In addition, some studies were excluded due to the different standard may lead to deviation of the combined prevalence.

Conclusions: Nearly half of the investigated individuals reported moderate-to-high PTG after experiencing a traumatic event. Future research needs to further study the determinants of PTG to provide relevant interventions for the victims of trauma.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Posttraumatic growth; Prevalence; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Posttraumatic Growth, Psychological*
  • Prevalence