The theory of posttraumatic growth arose from accounts of various trauma survivors experiencing not only distress but also growth and change. An intensive care unit admission is an unplanned, sudden, and traumatic experience, and many survivors have posttraumatic stress that can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder. Survivors leave the intensive care unit with new functional impairments that drive depression, and they frequently experience anxiety. Amidst the stress of understanding the trauma of an intensive care unit admission, survivors can grow in their world views, relationships, and sense of self. Understanding posttraumatic growth in intensive care unit survivors will inform health care providers on how to help survivors understand their new difficulties after an intensive care unit stay and facilitate growth. This article is a conceptual review of posttraumatic growth, identifiers of posttraumatic growth, and how the tenets of the posttraumatic growth theory apply to intensive care unit survivors. Health care professionals, specifically nurses, can incorporate practices into their care during and after the intensive care unit stay that encourage understanding and positive accommodation of new difficulties brought on by the intensive care unit hospitalization to support survivor growth. Opportunities for research include incorporating posttraumatic growth assessments into post–intensive care unit clinics, self-help materials, and various programs or therapies. Outcomes associated with posttraumatic growth are listed to suggest directions for research questions concerning posttraumatic growth in intensive care unit survivors.
Facilitating Posttraumatic Growth After Critical Illness
Abigail C. Jones, Rachel Hilton, Blair Ely, Lovemore Gororo, Valerie Danesh, Carla M. Sevin, James C. Jackson, Leanne M. Boehm; Facilitating Posttraumatic Growth After Critical Illness. Am J Crit Care 1 November 2020; 29 (6): e108–e115. doi: https://doi.org/10.4037/ajcc2020149
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