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Covid-19 and Growth

COVID-19 and Growth

A global pandemic affecting the wellbeing of everybody in the world might seem the worst of conditions for positive outcomes including personal growth. Yet out of seeming adversity and challenge great things do occur. 

Just ask Nobel Prize winning economist Dr Paul Romer. He is of the opinion that a "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste." COVID-19 could be remembered for all the negative, and wrong, reasons.  Evidence suggests that good things can come out of extremely trying circumstances.

In the 1990’s psychologists Dr Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, developed a concept called post-traumatic growth (PTG)—a variation of the more common PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  They researched the impact of trauma and the long-term outcomes following an impact on mental or emotional functioning.

The evidence showed that people did suffer post a traumatic event, but the unexpected outcome was that half to two thirds of PTSD patients experienced PTG and the ability to thrive after adversity. 

The scale

The scale they developed is called the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory[1]. It looks for positive responses in five areas:

  • Appreciation of life.
  • Relationships with others.
  • New possibilities in life.
  • Personal strength.
  • Spiritual change.



The scale drills down into more specific areas that are relevant to ageing and wellbeing as well as some of the more important potential ‘negative’ influences of traumatic events.  This focus is on: 
  • A deeper appreciation for life and each other
  • Increased compassion across the world for the experiences of others
  • Enriched relationships with others – research shows positive relationships, and long-term satisfaction with life are correlated.
  • Forgiveness
  • Openness to new possibilities in life
  • A spur of innovation like better health care systems, prevention of future outbreaks, and new treatment options
  • Resilience and psychological strength
  • Spiritual changes
  • Re-evaluating our choices and what is most important to us leading to positive outcomes

You can read Dr Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun research online in the Journal of Traumatic Stress Vol.9.

[1]The Posttraumatic Growth Inventorymeasuring the positive legacy of trauma.

Tedeschi RG, Calhoun LG.J Trauma Stress. 1996 Jul;9(3):455-71. doi: 10.1007/BF02103658