Coping flexibility and trauma appraisal predict patterns of posttraumatic stress and personal growth initiative in student trauma survivors.

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Exposure to a potentially traumatic event is not uncommon among college students, and following a traumatic event, college students cope and experience stress in heterogeneous patterns. The purpose of the current study was to (a) identify the patterns of personal growth initiative (PGI; Robitschek et al., 2012) skills and posttraumatic stress symptoms among college students who experienced a potentially traumatic event and (b) examine potential predictors (i.e., coping flexibility and stress appraisals) of membership in these different groups. Participants were 656 college students who experienced a traumatic event within the past 5 years. Data collection occurred from April 2016 to January 2017. Finite mixture modeling was conducted to identify the patterns of posttraumatic stress symptoms and PGI skills. Coping flexibility and stress appraisals (i.e., threat, challenge, centrality, and present control) were used as predictors of membership in the groups displaying these patterns, statistically controlling for demographic and trauma characteristics (i.e., gender, age, months since trauma, number of types of trauma, directedness, and intentionality). Three distinct patterns were identified. Coping flexibility and stress appraisals were significant predictors of group membership. This study highlights the complex interrelationship of PGI skills and posttraumatic stress responses and identifies benefits of assessing coping flexibility and perceptions of the potentially traumatic event when working with trauma survivors. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

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