The development of Posttraumatic Growth among Humanitarian Aid Workers: Trauma, Guilt, Openness to Experience and Self-Efficacy
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Humanitarian aid workers’ mental health is a crucial factor in dealing successfully with the humanitarian crises across the globe which now affect more people and last longer on average than ever before. Earlier research has shown that humanitarian aid workers (HAWs) are at increased risk to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, international aid work and ongoing exposure to human suffering might also be a possible catalyst for personal growth for the aid workers. The current study tries to shed light on these opposing phenomena. It investigates the influence of PTSD and feelings of guilt moderated by self-efficacy and openness to experience on the development of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) among HAWs from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Data from 117 HAWs from Médecins Sans Frontières – Operating Center Amsterdam (MSF – OCA) were retrieved from six different online questionnaires spread over three different occasions to test the described hypothesis. The results show that feelings of guilt explained a significant variation on PTSD scores. However, the hypothesized development of PTG through guilt and PTSD moderated by openness to experience and self-efficacy was not supported. In conclusion, guilt feelings among HAWs need heightened attention due to their strong association with posttraumatic symptomatology. Additionally, further research needs to break down the complex phenomena of PTG in order to detect the potential of positive development from adverse experiences within a traumatized population.