Post-traumatic growth and its predictors among Syrian refugees in Istanbul: A mental health population survey

Journal of Migration and Health

Karen Wen, Michael McGrath, Ceren Acarturk, Zeynep Ilkkursun, Daniela C.Fuhr, Egbert Sondorp, Pim Cuijpers, Marit Sijbrandij & Bayard Roberts


Aims: The negative mental health effects of exposure to trauma are well-documented. However, some individuals are theorized to undergo post-traumatic growth (PTG) after exposure to trauma, potentially experiencing positive psychological change across five domains: appreciation for life, relationships with others, new possibilities in life, personal strength, and spiritual change. PTG is less studied in forcibly displaced populations in low- and middle-income countries. This study aimed to explore levels of PTG and associated factors among Syrian refugee adults living in Istanbul, Turkey.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 1678 respondents. This study analyzed PTG data from 768 individuals as measured by the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). Descriptive analysis and univariate and multivariate least squares linear regression modeling were used. Factor analysis and Cronbach’s alpha tests assessed the psychometric properties of the PTGI.

Results: The sample exhibited a moderate level of PTG at 55.94 (SD=22.91, range 0–105). Factor analysis of PTGI revealed only four factors instead of five, and the PTGI yielded high internal reliability (Cronbach’s α=0.90). PTG and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had a curvilinear relationship, with the highest PTG levels experienced by those with moderate PTSD levels. Five other variables were significantly associated with PTG: older age, less education, somatic distress, and history of an overnight stay at a health facility for mental health care were associated with lower PTG, while more years of education were associated with higher PTG.

Conclusions: This study identified the role of the sociodemographic and psychological determinants that influence post-traumatic growth among Syrian refugees in Istanbul. These findings could be used to inform future research and programs seeking to understand PTG in refugees.

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