The Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) is a measure of how individuals experience growth after traumatic life events. The PTGI consists of 21 items that are rated on a five-point scale (0 = I did not experience this change as a result of my crisis to 5 = I experienced this change to a very great degree as a result of my crisis). The PTGI has been shown to be a reliable and valid measure of post-traumatic growth and it is typically analyzed using a confirmatory factor analysis (allows researchers to figure out if a relationship between a set of observed variables and their underlying constructs exists). It has been used in a variety of settings, including research on post-traumatic growth, clinical work with trauma survivors, and program evaluation. This self-report is based on five factors (subscales):
The PTGI was first developed to measure positive outcomes from a stressful life
event. However, new opportunities arose when the test was seen to be used as a tool to provide guidance to individuals with suggestions for areas that require self-improvements such as spiritual change, a new appreciation of life, new possibilities for wellness, and overall positive change. The questionnaire is still primarily used for cancer patients as well as cancer survivors however is making an appearance in clinical psychology across a wider range of trauma-related demographics.
The PTGI can be used in a number of ways. One way to use the PTGI is to assess someone’s level of post-traumatic growth. This can be helpful for clinicians in understanding how their clients are doing after a traumatic event and for researchers in understanding the factors that contribute to post-traumatic growth (PTG). Another way to use the PTGI is to track changes in post-traumatic growth over time.
Each of the 21 items is associated with one of the five factors and is then scored respectively. A cumulation of the scores specifies the level of post-traumatic growth. For instance, a higher total score suggests that the individual has undergone a positive change in their well-being. Remember those five factors (subscales) from before; personal strength, new possibilities, improved relationships, spiritual change, and appreciation of life. A closer look at the scores of the subscales is able to present an in-depth look into what areas have transformed significantly and what post-trauma areas may still require improvement.
Researchers in the USA who focus on biopsychosocial aspects of trauma, such as researchers published in The Journal of Traumatic Stress stress that the PTGI can be helpful for clinicians in monitoring their client’s progress. It also allows researchers to understand the dynamics of post-traumatic growth. The PTGI can be used to help people who have experienced a traumatic event and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to understand how they are feeling and dealing with the event. It can also help clinicians and researchers understand how people grow after a traumatic event which aids in positive change toward personal growth.
While the PTGI has been shown to be reliable and valid, there are some limitations to its use. First, the PTGI is a self-report measure, which means that it relies on individuals to report their own level of post-traumatic growth. This can be problematic because individuals may not be aware of or may not want to report negative experiences associated with the traumatic event. Second, the PTGI does not measure all aspects of post-traumatic growth. It measures individuals’ cognitive and emotional responses to the traumatic event but does not assess changes in their relationships or in their view of life. Finally, the PTGI is a new measure and more research is needed to understand its full potential.