Posttraumatic growth in hospitalized children and adolescents


Posttraumatic growth in hospitalized children and adolescents


Ihle EC


Journal Of The American Academy Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry




hospitalized child; Attention; California; Child; childhood; Female; Human; injury; Male; Palliative therapy; psychiatrist; psychologist; Psychology; role stress; systematic review; wellbeing


Objectives: This presentation will describe the phenomenon of posttraumatic growth through a review of the literature on complex developmental trauma and salutogenesis. A description of a multidisciplinary approach to support posttraumatic growth (PTG) will also be presented. Methods: A review of the literature on adverse childhood events, complex developmental trauma,medical trauma in children, positive psychology, and PTG will be presented. This seminarwill thendescribe amultidisciplinary, collaborative approach [developed at University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital (UCSF BCH)] to enhance well-being and support PTG. Results: There is much attention being paid to the role that complex developmental trauma and adverse childhood events (ACEs) play in determining the overall well-being of children and adolescents. One ACE that is particularly relevant to consultation-liaison (C/L) pediatric psychiatrists is the threat to bodily integrity; serious medical illness (and its treatment) is one such threat. ACEs have been associated with the maladaptive consequences of the stress response. However, it is important to highlight the auspicious role of stress in addition to its adaptive role (supporting survival). One positive aspect of stress is PTG where individuals gain strength and insight from crises. When medical trauma can be reframed as a stressor that promotes PTG, ACE is transformed from something pathogenic to an experience that is salutogenic. At UCSF BCH, a number of specialists play complementary roles in the effort to support salutogenesis. Our multidisciplinary, collaborative approach involves child and adolescent C/L psychiatrists, pediatric palliative care physicians, psychologists, and child life specialists in the effort to promote coping and enhance the emotional well-being of hospitalized patients. Conclusions: Medical trauma can be considered an ACE that challenges the resilience of both patients and their families. Interventions informed by the field of positive psychology can enhance resilience by supporting salutogenesis. Diverse disciplines can work collaboratively to support well-being and enhance PTG.


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Citation List Month

March 2018 List



Ihle EC, “Posttraumatic growth in hospitalized children and adolescents,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed September 26, 2023,