Go to content

Posttraumatic growth in coronary artery disease outpatients: relationship to degree of trauma and health service use


Objectives — Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is frequently reported after the strike of a serious medical illness. The current study sought to: 1) assess the relationship between degree of cardiac "threat" and PTG one-year post-hospitalization; and 2) to explore the association between PTG and healthcare utilization.

Methods — In a cohort study, 2636 cardiac inpatients from 11 Ontario hospitals completed a sociodemographic survey; clinical data were extracted from charts. One year later, 1717 of these outpatients completed a postal survey, which assessed PTG and healthcare utilization. Morbidity data were obtained retrospectively through probabilistic linkage to administrative data. The predicted risk of recurrent events for each participant was calculated using a logistic regression model, based on participants' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. The relationship among PTG, trauma and health service use was examined with multiple regression models.

Results — Greater PTG was significantly related to greater predicted risk of recurrent events (p<0.001), but not the actual rate of recurrent events (p=0.117). Moreover, greater PTG was significantly related to more physician visits (p=0.006), and cardiac rehabilitation program enrolment (p=0.001) after accounting for predicted risk and sociodemographic variables. PTG was not related to urgent healthcare use.

Conclusions — Greater PTG was related to greater objective risk of morbidity but not actual morbidity, suggesting that contemplation about the risk of future health problems may spur PTG. Moreover, greater PTG was associated with seeking non-urgent healthcare. Whether this translates to improved health outcomes warrants future study.



Leung YW, Alter DA, Prior PL, Stewart DE, Irvine J, Grace SL. J Psychosom Res. 2012; 72(4):293-9. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Sites