The negative and positive effects of trauma resulting from cancer – the role of personality and rumination
More details
Hide details
Institute of Psychology, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
Submission date: 2016-11-30
Final revision date: 2017-02-07
Acceptance date: 2017-02-21
Online publication date: 2017-04-27
Publication date: 2017-12-01
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2017;5(4):232–243
Personality and cognitive engagement, including event-related rumination, play essential roles in the negative and positive outcomes of experienced trauma. The aim of the study was to establish the role of personality traits and rumination in the occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and posttraumatic growth (PTG).

Participants and procedure
Sixty persons, aged 18-78 years (M = 50.40, SD = 17.74), who had experienced malignant tumours in the craniofacial area, i.e. the lips, palate, parotid gland, eye, nasopharynx, nasal cavity, middle ear and paranasal sinuses, were examined. The majority of respondents (68.30%) were women. The subjects were surveyed with the Impact of Event Scale-R (IES-R), the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), the NEO-Five Factor Personality (NEO-FFI), and the Event Related Rumination Inventory (ERRI).

Both PTSD symptoms and PTG were observed in the examined group. Almost 77.00% of participants demonstrated at least a medium degree of PTSD. Twenty three percent of subjects revealed a high level of PTG. Both intrusive and deliberate ruminations were related to the presence of PTSD symptoms and PTG. No direct relationship was found between personality dimensions and the negative and positive outcomes of trauma. Neuroticism, which is related to intrusive rumination, affects PTSD symptoms. Conscientiousness, which is related to deliberate ruminations, affects posttraumatic growth.

Personality has an indirect impact on the negative and positive consequences of trauma via rumination over the experienced event.
American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). DSM-5.
Bellizzi, K. M., & Blank, T. O. (2006). Predicting posttraumatic growth in breast cancer survivors. Health Psychology, 25, 47–56.
Brodaty, H., Joffe, C., Luscombe, G., & Thompson, C. (2004). Vulnerability to posttraumatic stress disorder and psychological morbidity in aged holocaust survivors. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 19, 968–979.
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (1998). Posttraumatic growth: Future directions. In: R. G. Tedeschi, C. L. Park, & L. G. Calhoun (eds.), Posttraumatic growth: Positive changes in the aftermath of crisis (pp. 215–238). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2006). The foundations of posttraumatic growth: An expanded framework. In: L. G. Calhoun & R. G. Tedeschi (eds.), Handbook of posttraumatic growth (pp. 1–23). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Calhoun, L. G., Cann, A., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2010). The posttraumatic growth model: Sociocultural considerations. In: T. Weiss & R. Berger (eds.), Posttraumatic growth and culturally competent practice: Lessons learned from around the globe (pp. 1–14). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Cann, A., Calhoun, L. G., Tedeschi, R. G., Triplett, K. N., Vishnevsky, T., & Lindstrom, C. M. (2011). Assessing posttraumatic cognitive processes: the Event Related Rumination Inventory. Anxiety Stress & Coping, 24, 137–156.
Carboon, I., Anderson, V. A., Pollard, A., Szer, J., & Seymour, J. F. (2005). Posttraumatic growth following a cancer diagnosis: Do world assumptions contribute? Traumatology, 11, 269–283.
Chan, M. W., Ho, S. M., Tedeschi, R. G., & Leung, C. W. (2011). The valence of attentional bias and cancer-related rumination in posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth among women with breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 20, 544–552.
Cordova, M. J., Studs, J. L., Hann, D. M., Jacobsen, P. B., & Andrykowski, M. A. (2000). Symptom structure of PTSD following breast cancer. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 13, 301–309.
Costa, P., & McCrae, R. R. (1989). NEO-PI/FFI. Manual Supplement. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Dudek, B. (2003). Zaburzenie po stresie traumatycznym [Posttraumatic stress disorder]. Gdańsk: GWP.
Dudek, B., & Koniarek, J. (2004). Osobowościowe uwarunkowania rozwoju po stresie traumatycznym [Personality determinants of posttraumatic stress disorder]. In J. Strelau (ed.), Osobowość a ekstremalny stres [Personality and extreme stress] (pp. 183–198). Gdańsk: GWP.
Ehlers, A., & Clark, D. M. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 319–345.
Ehring, T., & Ehlers, A. (2014). Does rumination mediate the relationship between emotion regulation ability and posttraumatic stress disorder? Psychotraumatology, 5, 23547.
Helgeson, V., Reynolds, K., & Tomich, P. (2006). A meta-analytic review of benefit finding and growth. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 797–816.
Holeva, V., & Tarrier, N. (2001). Personality and peritraumatic dissociation in the prediction of PTSD in victims of road accidents. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 51, 687–692.
Jakšić, N., Brajković, L., Ivezić, E., Topić, R., & Jakovljević, M. (2012). The role of personality traits in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychiatria Danubina, 24, 256–266.
Jeantieu, M., Gaillat, F., Antonini, F., Azoulay, E., Martin, C., Thomas, P., & Leone, M. (2014). Postoperative pain and subsequent PTSD-related symptoms in patients undergoing lung resection for suspected cancer. Journal of Thoracic Oncology, 9, 362–369.
Juczyński, Z., & Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2009). Pomiar zaburzeń po stresie traumatycznym – polska wersja zrewidowanej Skali Wpływu Zdarzeń [Measurement of post-traumatic stress disorder – Polish version of Impact of Event Scale-Revised]. Psychiatria, 6, 15–25.
Kangas, M., Henry, J. L., & Bryant, R. A. (2002). Posttraumatic stress disorder following cancer: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology Review, 22, 499–524.
Karanci, A. N., Işıklı, S., Aker, A. T., Gül, E. I., Erkan, B. B., Özkol, H., & Güzel, H. Y. (2012). Personality, posttraumatic stress and trauma type: Factors contributing to posttraumatic growth and its domains in a Turkish community sample. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 3, 17303.
Klonowicz, T., & Eliasz, A. (2004). Traumatyczny stres w zawodowym doświadczeniu pracowników pogotowia. Rola niedopasowania osobowościowych regulatorów zachowania [Traumatic stress in the professional experience of emergency workers. The role of mismatch of personal regulators of behaviour]. In J. Strelau (ed.), Osobowość a ekstremalny stres [Personality and extreme stress] (pp. 167–182). Gdańsk: GWP.
Lawrence, J. W., & Fauerbach, J. A. (2003). Personality, coping, chronic stress, social support and PTSD symptoms among adult burn survivors: a path analysis. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 24, 63–72.
Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2004). Positive change following trauma and adversity: A review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17, 11–21.
Morris, B., & Shakespeare-Finch, J. (2011). Rumination, post-traumatic growth, and distress: structural equation modeling with cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 20, 1176–1183.
Mystakidou, K., Tsilika, E., Parpa, E., Galanos, A., & Vlahos, L. (2008). Post-traumatic growth in advanced cancer patients receiving palliative care. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13, 633–646.
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed depressive/anxiety symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 504–511.
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2010). Potraumatyczny rozwój w chorobie nowotworowej – rola prężności [Posttraumatic growth in cancer disease – the role of resiliency]. Polskie Forum Psychologiczne, 15, 125–139.
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2015). Dwa oblicza traumy – negatywne i pozytywne skutki zdarzeń traumatycznych u pracowników służb ratowniczych [Two faces of trauma – negative and positive effects of traumatic events in emergency service workers]. Warsaw: Wyd. Difin.
Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2016). Rola ruminacji w występowaniu pozytywnych zmian potraumatycznych u osób zmagających się z chorobami nowotworowymi [The role of rumination in occurrence of posttraumatic positive changes in people struggling with cancer]. Psychoonkologia, 20, 1–8.
Ogińska-Bulik, N., & Ciechomska, M. (2016). Posttraumatic growth of parents struggling with cancer disease of their child – the role of rumination. Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii, 25, 99–110.
Ogińska-Bulik, N., & Juczyński, Z. (2010). Rozwój potraumatyczny – charakterystyka i pomiar [Posttraumatic growth – characteristic and measurement]. Psychiatria, 7, 129–142.
Ogińska-Bulik, N., & Juczyński, Z. (2015). Inwentarz Ruminacji o Negatywnym Zdarzeniu – polska adaptacja the Event Related Rumination Inventory [The Polish adaptation of the event related rumination inventory]. Przegląd Psychologiczny, 58, 383–400.
Park, C. L., Chmielewski, J., & Blank, T. O. (2010). Posttraumatic growth: Finding positive meaning in cancer survivorship moderates the impact of intrusive thoughts on adjustment in younger adults. Psycho-Oncology, 19, 1139–1147.
Perez, S., Galdon, M. J., Andreu, Y., Ibanez, E., Dura, E., Conchado, A., & Cardena, E. (2014). Posttraumatic stress symptoms in breast cancer patients: Temporal evolution, predictors and meditational models. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 27, 224–231.
Phipps, S., Jurbergs, N., & Long, A. (2009). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress in children with cancer: Does personality trump health status. Psycho-Oncology, 18, 992–1002.
Salsman, J. M., Segerstrom, S. C., Brechting, E. H., Carlson, C. R., & Andrykowski, M. A. (2009). Posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology among colorectal cancer survivors: A 3 month longitudinal examination of cognitive processing. Psycho-Oncology, 18, 30–41.
Shakespeare-Finch, J., Gow, K., & Smith, S. (2005). Personality, coping and posttraumatic growth in emergency ambulance personnel. Traumatology, 11, 325–334.
Sheikh, A. I. (2004). Posttraumatic growth in the context of heart disease. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 11, 265–273.
Shelby, R., & Golden-Kreutz, D. (2008). PTSD diagnoses, subsyndromal symptoms and commorbidity contribute to impairments for breast cancer survivors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 21, 165–172.
Strelau, J., Zawadzki, B., Oniszczenko, W., Sobolewski, A., & Pawłowski, P. (2004). Temperament i style radzenia sobie ze stresem jako moderatory zespołu stresu pourazowego w następstwie przeżytej katastrofy [Temperament and styles of coping as moderators of posttraumatic stress disorder following a catastrophic event]. In J. Strelau (ed.), Osobowość a ekstremalny stres [Personality and extreme stress] (pp. 48–64). Gdańsk: GWP.
Taku, K., Calhoun, L. G., Cann, A., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2008). The role of rumination in the coexistence of distress and posttraumatic growth among bereaved Japanese university students. Death Studies, 32, 428–444.
Tashiro, T., & Frazier, P. (2003). “I’ll never be in a relationship like that again”. Personal growth following romantic relationship breakups. Personal Relationship, 10, 113–128.
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1996). The Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory: Measuring the positive legacy of trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9, 455–471.
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 1–8.
Weiss, D., & Marmar, C. (1997). The Impact of Event Scale – Revised. In J. Wilson & T. Keane (eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD: A handbook for practitioners (pp. 399–411). New York: Guilford Press.
Widera, A., Juczyński, Z., & Popiela T. (2003). Psychologiczne wyznaczniki stresu pourazowego u pacjentów onkologicznych po okaleczających zabiegach chirurgicznych [Psychological determinants of post-traumatic stress in oncological patient after disabling surgical procedures]. Psychoonkologia, 7, 31–36.
Zawadzki, B., Kaczmarek, M., & Strelau, J. (2009). Reaktywność emocjonalna a nasilenie objawów zaburzenia stresowego pourazowego u ofiar powodzi: efekt patoplastyczności, spektrum, podatności czy komplikacji [Emotional reactivity and severity of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in flood victims: the effect of pathoplasticity, spectrum, vulnerability or complication]. In J. Strelau, B. Zawadzki, & M. Kaczmarek (eds.), Konsekwencje psychiczne traumy: uwarunkowania i terapia [Psychological consequences of trauma: determinants and therapy] (pp. 77–109). Warsaw: Wyd. Naukowe Scholar.
Zawadzki, B., Strelau, J., Szczepaniak, P., & Śliwińska, M. (1998). Inwentarz Osobowości NEO-FFI Costy i McCrae [Personality Inventory NEO-FFI by Costa and McCrae]. Warsaw: Pracownia Testów Psychologicznych PTP.